MILAN (VN) — Bradley Wiggins appears ready for change — including racing on the track and possibility leaving Sky — after missing the Tour de France for the second straight year.
“I’d have liked to have been there at the Tour,” Wiggins told journalists after winning the British time trial title Thursday. “But it came down that there was a cutoff point, and having gone back on the track early, I didn’t have the preparation.”
One year after winning the 2012 Tour de France, Wiggins suffered at the Giro d’Italia last year and skipped the Tour due to a knee problem. It may have been for the better, since he and eventual winner Chris Froome had already butted heads.
This year, Wiggins appeared ready to race after winning the Amgen Tour of California last month. However, he never went to one of Sky’s altitude camps in Tenerife, didn’t race with the A-team at the Critérium du Dauphiné, and crashed out of the Tour de Suisse. His return to win the hotly contested British time trial title gave a glimmer of hope, which was quickly squashed.
Sky announced the eight riders who will support Froome at the Tour on Friday; Wiggins’ name was nowhere to be found.
“It is what it is,” Wiggins said. “The team they are sending is an incredible team. You couldn’t fault it, really.”
End of the road?
It could be the end of the road for Wiggins, who already indicated he wants to end his career where it began — on the track. The 34-year-old Englishman won three Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008 — two in the individual pursuit and one in the team pursuit — before switching full-time to the road in 2009 and slimming down.
This year he put on weight, targeted the classics and in recent weeks, began training on the boards. British Cycling’s technical director Shane Sutton said Wednesday that if Wiggins didn’t race the Tour de France, the Commonwealth Games at the end of July could become his focus.
“At this moment in time, he is definitely down to ride the time trial,” Sutton told Sky Sports News. “The chances are, if he misses out [for the Tour] we will slot him straight onto the boards because he has done a little bit of work. He’s a natural, technically the most gifted track rider we have seen in years. We would welcome him back with open arms.”
The Games in Glasgow would also put Wiggins on track to compete for Great Britain at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. He said this spring that he may already need to start racing track events in the winter, 18 months out, to make sure he qualifies under the new rules.
Wiggins could test his track legs in Glasgow, return to race the Vuelta a España to prepare for the time trial Worlds — where he placed second to Tony Martin in Florence last year — and end his season.
Where and in what colors would he return in 2015? Orica-GreenEdge and Wiggins have unofficially spoken about next season, but if they agreed to a contract they couldn’t say anything until August 1, when cycling rules allow them to do so.
Orica’s head sports director Matt White told Fairfax Media, “He is definitely a rider who would fit into this group.”
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” Wiggins told the BBC this month, “if I want to do the Tour, I’ll probably have to leave Sky.”