Wiggins completes Dauphine victory
Sun, 12 Jun 16:04:00 2011
Bradley Wiggins underlined his Tour de France credentials by winning the Criterium du Dauphine to claim the biggest road race victory of his career.
Wiggins, who finished fourth overall in the 2009 Tour de France but crumbled in the mountains last year, snatched the yellow jersey after Wednesday's time trial and hung on to his lead thanks to a solid display in the final two mountain stages.
"We have a plan for the Tour de France and the Dauphine was part of the plan," Wiggins said. "I'm not 100 per cent yet."
"I can't follow Schleck and Contador in the mountains, but the time trial is my thing," he said, referring to the final time trial in Grenoble.
"I will have to ride my race. Anything is possible. A podium finish is possible but others like (Belgian) Juergen van den Broeck can also get there."
Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov was third, 23 seconds further adrift for the Astana team.
The day's stage win went to Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez after the Katusha rider, still riding on his Giro d'Italia form, attacked with less than one kilometre to go in the demanding 117.5-km mountain trek from Pontcharra.
French hot prospect Thibaut Pinot was second in the seventh and final stage, with Dutchman Robert Gesink taking third as Wiggins finished safe in the favourites' group 10 seconds behind Rodriguez, who had also won Saturday's mountain stage.
Wiggins, who lost 11 kg since winning the individual and team pursuit on the Beijing Olympics track in 2008, resisted his rivals' attacks on Saturday and Sunday to snatch a prestigious win.
He looked barely troubled as the peloton tackled the intimidating Col de la Croix de Fer - a 22km climb at an average gradient of seven per cent via the punishing Col du Glandon, and the final, 14.8km ascent at 5.8 per cent to La Toussuire.
He will be hoping he can repeat his performances from this race in July's Tour de France, where he believes he will benefit from the help of a strong team.
"They worked for me every day and even today a guy like Rigoberto Uran, who had been a bit sick all week, was super," said Wiggins.