Great Britain’s Sir Bradley Wiggins believes he is on course to challenge for the maglia rosa after taking another step towards May’s Giro d’Italia.
The Team Sky rider finished fifth overall at the Volta a Catalunya on Sunday, part of a build-up which will ultimately see the four-time Olympic champion undertake a Giro-Tour double in 2013.
“The plan is still to do Giro-Tour and managing that fatigue in between so we’re still good at the Tour,” Wiggins told the official Team Sky website.
“There’d been such a build-up for three or four years since I joined Sky to win the Tour. Once I’d done it I was a case of ‘what do I do now?’ I’d achieved everything that I’d wanted to achieve. It’s other things like that Giro that really interest me. But not just the Giro – trying to do a good Giro and then the Tour after it is appealing as well because it’s a new challenge.
“It's the same as the Olympics and the Tour was last year and it’s that same sort of process,” the Tour de France champion added.
"The training we do now I never imagined we’d be doing three years ago. It just steps up each year, always trying to improve."
Sir Bradley Wiggins
A change in ambitions has been reflected in Wiggins’ programme. In 2012, the 32-year-old won Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné before making history in France.
Paris-Nice has already been excluded from Wiggins’ campaign as both his racing and training schedule are altered with May’s opening stage in Napoli in mind and the Briton has been left pleased with preparations thus far.
“When I look back at what I’ve done since January – I’ve done a lot of work. More work than last year,” said the British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider.
“I really enjoy training and I’m pleased with the level I’ve got back to. There were times when I thought maybe I’d never get back to that level. So this last week’s been really good.”
Wiggins hasn’t contested the opening Grand Tour of the calendar since 2010, having won the prologue in Amsterdam before eventually finishing 40th in the general classification.
Despite his feats of the last 12 months, he is adamant he is still developing, learning and improving as he aims to become the first Briton to win the Giro.
“Every year there’s a little bit more because you learn from the previous year. This year’s been harder because the stuff we did last year worked, so we’ve done more of that and maybe less of some of the stuff that didn’t work. It’s a continual process,” Wiggins said.
“The training we do now I never imagined we’d be doing three years ago. It just steps up each year, always trying to improve because we've never stopped and said ‘okay this works so we’ll do the same again’. It’s always to improve and be better.
“This year we’ve been working more on the explosive climbing and things like that because the racing is going that way more. The Giro climbs are more that way, and on Vallter a few days ago the first signs were that I still had good legs to attack. So it seems to be working.”