Wiggins opens season in Mallorca, will race the Vuelta

Former Tour champion says he won't target grand tour wins any more, but will use the Vuelta to prepare for the time trial at the world championships

Photo: PD

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Bradley Wiggins opened his season Monday, and his 2014 calendar includes Paris-Roubaix, the Tour de France, and the Vuelta a España. He started with Spain’s Trofeo Ses Salines today and wants to end the year with a world time trial title. The 2012 Tour champion indicated that he would race the Vuelta to be ready for the worlds in Ponferrada, Spain.

Wiggins told The Guardian, “I felt last year that I was short of racing when it came down to the worlds.”

The British newspaper reported that Wiggins was likely to include the Vuelta a España in order to have enough racing days ahead of the worlds. Last year in Florence, Italy, he finished second, 46 seconds behind German Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

Since Wiggins abandoned the Giro d’Italia and skipped the Tour de France, he raced fewer days compared to Martin. Martin raced the Tour and two weeks of the Vuelta a España prior to his gold medal ride through the streets of Florence. Wiggins returned from his Giro disappointment with a series of weeklong stage races. He competed in the Tour of Poland, where he won the time trial, the Eneco Tour, and the Tour of Britain. He took the British tour’s time trial stage and overall, his first GC title since the 2012 Tour de France.

However, he said that he felt short of racing days before the worlds. According to The Guardian, Wiggins explained that the best way to win the title over Martin was to copy his build-up with two grand tours. That way he will arrive to the time trial in Ponferrada, Sept. 24 with more miles in his legs. It worked in 2012, when he came off the back of the Tour and won the Olympic time trial title. Martin abandoned the Tour early after fracturing a bone in his hand and took a silver medal at the Olympics.

Last week, Wiggins said that he would target Paris-Roubaix and the Amgen Tour of California, and return to the Tour de France to support Chris Froome. His rough schedule takes him from southern to northern Europe and to the U.S.: Mallorca Challenge, Vuelta a Andalucía, Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem, Scheldeprijs, Paris-Roubaix, and the Tour of California.

“I’ve got quite a few goals,” he said in an interview published to Sky’s website yesterday. “I want to get back to winning races again, being like the old me instead of turning up at races and not being in the best frame of mind.”

Wiggins added that last year he paid for his 2012 success. In addition to the Tour and Olympic title, his overall wins in Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, and Critérium du Dauphiné made for a busy season.

Stage races like California continue to make up his program, but he said that he would not aim for grand tour titles anymore.

One of the most iconic classics, Paris-Roubaix, is his first goal. A series of Belgian one-day races — Dwars door Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem, and Scheldeprijs — should prepare him and give an indication as to his chances in “The Hell of the North.”

“I know I’m capable of performing in races like Paris-Roubaix with the qualities I have and the demands of that race, but there’s a lot leading up to that and you can’t just come in the day before and expect to be leader,” said Wiggins.

Wiggins finished in the peloton, 52 seconds behind winner Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) on Monday in Mallorca.

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