Friday, 20 July 2012
Brad Wiggins has allowed himself to start thinking about holding the Tour de France title.
But Wiggins' brief moment of joy on the last major climb of this year's Tour was short-lived.
He expressed his frustration during Thursday's post-stage media conference when asked about who is not at the Tour, rather than his impending win.
Wiggins admitted after stage 17, the last day in the Pyrenees, that as he and Sky teammate Chris Froome were on the climb to the summit finish at Peyragudes his mind was elsewhere.
Froome wanted to hunt down Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who would win the stage, but Wiggins was enjoying his rare lapse of concentration.
They had just dropped Italian Vincenzo Nibali, who is third overall, and it suddenly occurred to Wiggins that barring some catastrophe, in three days' time the title is his.
A year after Cadel Evans became the first Australian Tour winner, Wiggins will achieve the same feat for Great Britain. "I heard on the radio that we were alone, just the two of us (himself and Froome) - it surprised me a little bit," Wiggins said.
"At that point, the first time in this whole Tour since I've led this race, I thought maybe I've just won the Tour.
"All the fight went out of the window, everything to do with the performance.
"And that's when it starts getting hard then because you lose concentration. It was an incredible feeling. It really was."
But Wiggins quickly returned to reality at his media conference.
There were questions about former winner Alberto Contador, who missed this Tour because of a doping suspension.
"After everything I've done this year you still have to justify... 'so you might've won the Tour but is it ever going to be remembered for these people not being here, this, that and the other'," Wiggins said.
"I don't think all the people that came out from the UK to stand on the climbs for the last couple of weeks give a monkeys about that.
"For me in a positive sense, no-one's actually praised me yet.
"No-one's actually said: 'You know what, Brad, good on you mate. You've answered all these doping questions as articulately as you possibly can'.
"No-one's actually patted me on the back yet, it's all still in a negative sense."