NAPLES, Italy (VN) — Bradley Wiggins (Sky) began his attempt to win the Giro d’Italia from chaotic Naples on Saturday. Making his way from Sky’s hotel, passing in the shadow of Vesuvius and dodging traffic, Wiggo signed his name to the start sheet to embark on his journey.
“In Italy the food’s great. The Lambrettas, I want to add another one to my collection. And the fans, of course,” Wiggins told journalists Friday. “The traffic here in Naples is crazy, though, and that’s even for someone who was raised in London. It doesn’t even compare, it’s shocked me in these last days.”
Sky sports director Dan Hunt told VeloNews that he was astonished at the number of times cars put the team in the gutter and nearly caused Sir Wiggins — the Tour and Olympic champion —to crash.
In Naples, motorists ignore white lines and stop signs. Cars weave through traffic and pedestrians step into the road unexpectedly. It is part of Naples’ charm, but a nightmare for cyclists.
Wiggins put Naples on his map last year when he decided to aim for the Giro d’Italia. Following the Tour de France and Olympic time trial win, he wanted a new challenge.
Besides being new, it’s different. Chaos, to a lesser extent than in Naples, reigns throughout Italy.
“The Giro is historically less controllable than the Tour. I know what I’m talking about because that day three years ago when the 58-rider escape went free on the road to L’Aquila I was there. Then the climbs are harder, faster, less adapted to me,” Wiggins said.
“It’ll be harder than the Tour de France. The Giro is my biggest sporting challenge. To win it will require the best Wiggins yet.”
And first, Wiggins has to survive the opening week. Two years ago, he was prepared to win the Tour but fractured his collarbone in an opening-week crash.
At the end of the week, a 55km time trial could give him an advantage before the high mountains of the third week.
“I’m not thinking about [the time trial]. I never think about how much time I can take or lose here or there,” Wiggins said. “It’s useless to talk about it. But the time trial will be less decisive than in the Tour last year.”
Wiggins said that the mountains in the second and third week — like Montasio, Galibier and Tre Cime di Lavaredo — will do damage.
Colombians Rigoberto Urán and Sergio Henao will finish off the work in the mountains. Danny Pate and Christian Knees will protect Wiggins on the flats. Dario Cataldo, Salvatore Puccio, Xabier Zandio and Kanstantsin Siutsou will help with all the rest.
But on Saturday morning, they were just concerned about getting Sir Wiggo to Piazza del Plebiscito and starting the 130km opener in chaotic Naples.