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Bradley Wiggins to emphasize training over racing in buildup to Giro d’Italia

MUSCAT, Oman (VN) — Bradley Wiggins (Sky) confirmed Sunday that he will limit his racing ahead of the Giro d’Italia, using a Tenerife training camp instead of Tirreno-Adriatico.

The Tour de France champion starts the Tour of Oman on Monday with many of his rivals, among them Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff). Afterward, he’ll be off to Spain’s southern isle for high-altitude training and isolation.

“I’m going to Tenerife after this,” Wiggins told VeloNews. “I’m not doing Paris-Nice or Tirreno, or those races.”

The island off Africa’s west coast offers the convenience of high-altitude and seaside training. Wiggins traveled to Tenerife twice ahead of his successful run in the Tour de France last year. The second time, he spent two weeks there before returning to win the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.

Joe Dombrowski and Richie Porte are expected to follow Wiggins to Tenerife and on to the Giro. Porte, like Chris Froome in the Tour last year, will be ready to step up to the leadership role if something should happen to Wiggins in the Giro.

Oman will be the last race for the Giro group until the Volta a Catalunya, March 18-24. The Giro del Trentino (April 16-19) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 21) are also scheduled.

“We are proud to have Wiggins here to prepare for his season,” Tour of Oman co-owner Eddy Merckx told VeloNews. “He’ll see how he’s going and how hard he has to work. Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Cadel Evans. … They’re all here.”

Wiggins said the decision to race in Oman was based on necessity.

“Originally we thought Algarve, but there was some dispute whether or not if it was on, so we just decided to do this. It’s more to have the race days, really. That was that,” Wiggins explained.

The race runs over the rolling roads around the capital city of Muscat. The fourth stage finishes with a 5.7km climb to Green Mountain.

The terrain requires hard work. “So that was the main thing,” said Wiggins. “I’m not doing many races this year; this is my last race for a while.”

Wiggins said he would ride to or from the stages when possible to maximize his training.

Oman will be the only stage race ahead of the grand tours when so many GC stars will come together. It may be the only race where Wiggins and Froome will race in the same squad ahead of the Tour. They all met for photos overlooking the Gulf of Oman Sunday evening.

Wiggins is eager to race on Monday. In Mallorca last week he had a go in an intermediate sprint. There is no telling what will happen in Oman, but he said later in a small group of journalists that he does not feel obliged to respond to his rivals’ attacks.

“I won’t be able to. I’m too heavy at the moment,” Wiggins said. “I may do [try] anyway just because it’s about racing. Whether I stay with them or not, we’ll see.”