Bradley Wiggins was sixth in the Annecy time trial after a headwind slowed him in the final section of the stage but he still has a great chance of finishing on the final podium in Paris.
Wiggins warmed down with a towel covering his head and was initially angry and disappointed with his result until he realised that all the late starters lost time on the final section of the course due to the change in wind.
“I think there were two races today. There was the race for the stage win and the race for the GC guys,” Wiggins said after waiting patiently for Lance Armstrong to finish in anti-doping.
“I think the conditions changed from the top of the climb to the finish. For the guys who went off this morning there was no headwind and so it was variable conditions. For us it was kind of a block headwind all the way back.”
“I had a slight problem with my chain and my rear mech but it was the headwind that caused all the difference.”
“From what I heard, I lost 12 seconds to Contador on the descent but saying that, if the conditions had been the same Alberto would have still won and I would have been second or third. And I’ve had enough second places this year…”
Wiggins moved past Frank Schleck and Andreas Kloden to fourth overall after the time trial. He is 4-11 behind Alberto Contador (Astana) and 1-25 behind Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) but he is only 11 seconds behind Lance Armstrong (Astana), who has suffered on the climbs more than Wiggins during the Tour de France.
>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<
Bradley Wiggins warms down after stage 18
He knows that the final battle for third will be decided on the slopes of Mount Ventoux on Saturday.
“It’s all going to come down to the Ventoux now. I think Alberto has pretty much won the Tour de France but there’s a race for second, third and fourth. One final climb on the stage suits me, a bit like Verbier and Andorra. It’s one effort, one time trial up the Ventoux.”
“I think everyone is in the same boat and everyone is pretty tired. Andy Schleck told me that he wishes the race was over now. I feel sort of the same way.”
“If someone said to me do I want to settle with fourth or race up the Ventoux and try and gamble for a little higher, I’d probably accept fourth at this stage.”