Published: 30 April 2013
Report: Scott Hobro
Sir Bradley Wiggins ‘can’t wait to get started’ at the Giro d’Italia as he aims to become the first British winner of the Grand Tour and the coveted maglia rosa.
The 33 year old is fronting Team Sky’s nine-man squad having made history in last year’s Tour de France and will attempt to emulate that success from 4 May, when the race begins in Naples.
“Alongside the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix, the Giro d’Italia is one of the biggest bike races in the world and one I’d love to win,” Wiggins told the Team Sky Giro d'Italia podcast.
“I’ve watched the Giro since I was a kid and have seen my idols win it, which makes it even more special. It has always been a race that I’ve wanted to ride well in.
“I believe the Giro team this year is just as strong as the Tour de France team last year and the results prove that everyone is ready to go.”
Four-time Olympic champion Wiggins has undertaken a different approach to the 21 stages in Italy to that which delivered him to the Tour in 2012.
A programme comprising of the Tour of Oman, Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino plus training blocks in Mallorca have acted as preparation for Wiggins for an event which he has not competed in since 2010.
Last year, triumphs in Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné had paved the way to the Grand Depart in Liege.
“The lead-up has been a bit different to last year as obviously I don’t have the wins under my belt,” he admitted. “I’ve had to sacrifice that a little bit in order to try and be better for the Giro.
"That’s a bigger challenge and I’ve come out of my comfort zone a bit and come to races I normally wouldn’t choose to ride. Places like Catalunya, Oman and Trentino – all without time trials – so there isn’t that to rely on. But for the bigger picture and what we’re trying to do at the Giro I think we’re on track.
“I’ve been training differently this season. It’s been a bit more intense and all crammed into a short space of time. It’s been pretty non-stop since the first of January. But it’s been good and we’re pretty much there now. It’s quite exciting and I’m looking forward to the Giro.”
Two individual time trials in Italy will play to Wiggins’ merits as should a team time trial – which the Briton has experienced victory in with his Team Sky colleagues at the Trentino. The route also challenges riders to five high mountain stages, six mountain finishes and 19,429 metres of elevation, though Wiggins prefers to examine each stage in more detail at the apt time.
“It’s not something that I really study. I try not to look at it all in one go - I try to let [Head of Performance] Tim [Kerrison] do that,” Wiggins commented.
“He, Dario [Cioni] and [Sports Director] Marcus Ljungqvist have gone away to look at the stages and recce it all.
“They just drip the information into me as we get closer and pick out places we should go and look at. That helps me to take the race one day at a time without looking too far ahead. It’s just my way of handling it.
“I tend not to look at the routes. They are what they are. When a road goes uphill you could be anywhere in the world. Uphill is uphill, on tarmac. No matter the name of the climb. It’s always hard.”
The 96th edition of the Giro takes place completely in the borders of Italy. In 2010, at the stage one time trial in Amsterdam, Wiggins rode his way in to the maglia rosa, becoming the second Briton to wear it after Mark Cavendish in 2009 and he is now fervently anticipating a return to the race.
“It’s a lot different to the Tour in so many ways. It tends to be much more about the sport in Italy. People just love cycling,” Wiggins said.
“It’s a lot more relaxed at the start every day and people come out to see the riders. I’ve always enjoyed being at the Giro. It’s a nice race.”