FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Bradley Wiggins can finally take something out of what has been a difficult 2013 season: silver. On Wednesday, the tall, red-headed Englishman took on and beat Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) for second spot in the world time trial championship.
Tony Martin (Germany), 48 seconds ahead, was out of reach.
After abandoning the Giro d’Italia and missing the Tour de France, the medal was some consolation for Wiggins. It adds to his Tour of Britain overall and a stage in the Tour of Poland, making amends for a disappointing year as the reigning Tour de France champion.
“It was hard, challenging, I had to go back to the drawing board,” Wiggins said of his Giro abandon. “I started training during the [Critérium du] Dauphiné, stopping at petrol stations for water and changing inner tubes on my own. It felt like a complete fall from grace.”
Wiggins has long been Great Britain’s focus in races against the clock. At the Olympics, he won two individual pursuit gold medals and last year in London, the road time trial. His dominance in the two time trials at the Tour last year paved the way for his overall victory.
It was a rocky start today, 56.8 kilometers from Florence in Montecatini Terme. When the times from the first intermediate check flashed on the TV screen, Cancellara led Martin and Wiggins was sixth best.
“I rode to power, I was consistent all the way through,” Wiggins said. “I don’t like riding to time splits. If you react to Tony, who rode so well, you can blow up. That was a long time trial, a good 10 or 15 minutes longer than normal, and there are not many who can sustain that effort for that time. I did overhear the first split, I heard I was 16 seconds down, but I knew there were was a long way to go from there.”
It became clear Martin was on a winning ride but what was not clear was if Wiggins would get on the podium. He reduced his 24-second deficit at the 24.5km point to 12 seconds at 42.8km. He finished in 1:06:22. Cancellara, who started behind Wiggins, crossed the line 2.25 seconds slower.
“I didn’t die off or speed up, I just held the same speed. It a bit like Carl Lewis used to run 100 meters,” Wiggins said. “I rode to power.”
He said his power meter read 450 watts most of the time and went up towards 500 watts near the finish.
Wiggins walked from the podium to the press room without saying much. His body language was hard to read. The silver medal around his neck was not the gold he wanted, but he said that it puts him on track.
“I’m satisfied with the performance, consistent from start to finish. You can’t control what the others are going to do,” Wiggins explained when he sat down in the press conference. “It’s a success, given from where I come from at the start of June. I’ve come a long way. Hopefully, it’s a good platform for next year.”