British Cycling's Ride of the Year 2011: The Nominations
Bradley Wiggins wins the Dauphiné
What: Critérium du Dauphiné 2011 Stage Race
When: June 5-12, 2011
Where: French Alps
How it unfolded:
From the off, Wiggins and the team were pitch perfect. Third in the short Prologue was followed by a strong 7th on stage one, with its long final climb to Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse. Stage two was also about staying in contention as winds ripped apart the field on an otherwise innocuous stage: Sky got Bradley back into the front group after he’d missed the initial splitting of the peloton – a close shave but they were still in the ball-game.
Stage three was where Bradley had to make a move and a typically classy time trial ride took him into second on the stage, behind Tony Martin. More importantly he gained more than a minute on his main rivals, including Alexandre Vinokourov and Cadel Evans, from whom Bradley now led the General Classification by 71 seconds.
The three final stages of the race all ventured into the mountains and gave Wiggins’ rivals ample opportunity to attack him, but strong team support allied to a clear plan, which saw Sky marning only Bradley's serious rivals, allowed him to sew the race up with minimal fuss.
Wiggins had triumphed by carefully maximising his own advantages – namely the long time trial and a balanced and motivated team – whilst negating, his rivals’ strengths with fine defensive riding in the mountains. It was a ride in the stye of Miguel Indurain, who won five Tours with this approach.
What he said
Bradley Wiggins focussed on his team-mates in his post race reaction, underlining the unity within the Sky set-up: "They worked for me every day and even today a guy like Rigoberto Uran, who had been a bit sick all week, was super."
Why should this be the British Cycling's Ride of the Year 2011?
For a rider of his ability, Bradley Wiggins' wins on the road have been few and far between, mainly because he has had the misfortune to be around at the same time as Fabien Cancellara and Tony Martin, two of the greatest time trial riders of all time, without whom he might have a couple of world titles and several more major stage wins to his credit.
His late flowering as a major tour contender means he has only a very few chances to win one: his sad exit from this year’s Tour de France with a broken collarbone and his near miss in 2009, set alongside his third at the Vuelta in September all illustrate that sometimes a rider needs a little luck. Only time will tell if Wiggins finally achieves the Tour win he is surely capable of.
But, in the meantime, let’s not forget just what an immensely impressive ride his win in the Critérium du Dauphiné 2011 was. He lived up to his role as team leader to perfection and, in conquering the high mountains and some of the best riders in the world, he showed a whole generation of up and coming young British riders that the Holy Grail of Road cycling – a Grand Tour win – is something to which they can reasonably aspire.
You can place your vote for British Cycling’s Ride of the Year 2011 here. Please note voting opens at 9am on 15 December once all the nominations have been revealed and closes at 5pm on 18 December 2011.