The Reuters global sports blog
Can Bradley Wiggins become Britain’s first Tour de France winner?
Can Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France?
It’s a simple question with a reasonably simple answer – yes, well maybe. Not necessarily this year but soon, if everything goes right and he stays fit.
Has he got the support every rider needs to win the Big One?
And some. Team Sky have put together a hand-picked 26-rider team that balances young thrusters and old hands and with the money of Sky and the inspiration and attention to detail of Dave Brailsford and his similarly hand-picked assistants, nothing will be left to chance.
Is he a stronger all-round rider than Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck or Lance Armstrong?
No. Well he was not last year when he finished fourth, but he said he surprised himself with how he has developed since, concentrating all his efforts on the road and he goes into the new season with a totally new mindset.
Will Contador, Schleck and Armstrong again be the men to beat?
Yes, this year at least. Contador still looks to be individually a class apart but his Astana team looks weaker this year. Armstrong could be stronger than in his comeback year but he is fighting a one-way battle against his 38-year-old body while Schleck could prove Wiggins’ biggest threat.
Does anyone in Britain care?
Well Mark Cavendish finished fourth in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year awards last year and Chris Hoy won it in 2008 so cycling awareness is definitely on the up. The Tour de France remains the only race to gain any substantial media coverage in the UK and even that is a fraction of what it gets on the Continent.
So if Wiggins becomes the first Briton to win the race he’s guaranteed the BBC title in 2010?
Unfortunately not – that will be going to England’s World Cup-winning captain John Terry following his emotional conversion of the 11th spot kick in the marathon final penalty shoot over victory over Brazil in Johannesburg…
PHOTO: Britain’s Bradley Wiggins cycles during the men’s time trial race at the world cycling championships in Mendrisio September 24, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann