Bradley Wiggins should forgo the chance to defend his Tour de France crown next year and mount a double assault on the other Grand Tours if he’s to cement his place in the pantheon of cycling greats, according to British Cycling and Sky head coach Shane Sutton.
Having become the first British Tour de France winner in its history – before adding Olympic time trial gold a couple of weeks later – few could argue Wiggins’ legend status within British sport.
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But Wiggins himself admitted he won’t be able to top his summer of 2012 and Sutton has questioned his appetite to tackle the centenary edition of the Tour de France – expected to feature the majority of the race’s historical mountains, something that could suit Team Sky teammate Chris Froome better.
“Nothing can take that away from him. It took 106 years in the making, not of Brad obviously but to find a British winner, and it is a phenomenal achievement,” said Sutton.
“And whether we have an appetite to go back and repeat I am not sure yet.”
Sutton knows a thing or two about Wiggins’ motivation, having read him the riot act in 2010 after a 24th place finish in the Tour and he was he who built the Brit up again after breaking his collarbone in the 2011 race, when looking good to challenge.
Indeed, Sutton built Wiggins up to the extent that he came third in the Vuelta a Espana just weeks after that crash.
And Sutton believes 32-year-old Wiggins must return to the Vuelta next August – and bid to win the Giro d’Italia in May – to join the likes of Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx as winners of all three Grand Tours.
“For me I would like to see Brad go out of this sport, not that he won’t as it stands already, but as a legend,” said Sutton.
“But I think the legendary status for him could be enhanced by winning the three grand tours. I think he should target the tour of Italy and then the Vuelta.
“He came third in the Vuelta [in 2011] off the back of laying on a hospital bed for six or seven weeks out after a shoulder operation. So that is doable.
“The Giro is a different one, it is a different kettle of fish. But if anyone can do it Brad can.
“You look at the goals that you set out for yourself in a career and when you look at Brad he has achieved his goal, he has won the Tour.”
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