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Candid Wiggins admits struggles and continued desire for Giro win

TREVISO, Italy (VN) — Bradley Wiggins (Sky) admitted today, on the Giro d’Italia’s first rest day, that the last week has been “challenging” with “one problem after another.” Sky put Wiggins in pole position after the stage 2 team time trial in Ischia, but since, he has lost time to a crash, a puncture, and a lack of attention.

“It’s been up and down, challenging,” Wiggins said during a small press gathering on Monday. “It started off well, the team time trial. I seemed to have one problem after another up until yesterday. The Giro is like that; it’s been like that every time I’ve ridden the race, let alone trying to win it.”

Wiggins, who has focused this year on adding a Giro title to his palmares instead of a second consecutive Tour de France, appeared calm and open on Monday. Asked about his sideburns, he said he shaved them. He looks less and less rock ’n’ roll these days, leaving teammate Rigoberto Urán to take up the look with his Mick Jagger trim.

Dowsett’s time trial win stings

Sir Wiggo’ has yet to win a time trial as reigning Olympic champion. He revealed that Saturday’s 10-second loss to former teammate Alex Dowsett (Movistar) in Saltara got to him. An early flat required a bike change, but Wiggins closed more than half-a-minute on Dowsett over the final 25 kilometers.

Dowsett, who was in the same hotel, told VeloNews today, “Had he not punctured, he would’ve beat me.”

Wiggins said that the sting of the loss carried over into in Sunday’s rain-soaked stage to Florence. Instead of focusing on his job, he thought about the TT and let a gap open to overall leader Vincenzo Nibali’s (Astana) group. Wiggins caught back on and avoided losing more time, but sits fourth overall, at 1:16. He made up time on the Sicilian and the other GC contenders in Saturday’s stage, but not the minutes he had hoped for beforehand.

“I’ve been licking my wounds — sore left knee, hip sore, I have a cold,” Wiggins said. “The TT didn’t go as good as I thought, but physically I’m fine.”

He says the rest day would help him make a clean break.

“Those time trials take such a mental focus. You build up for it, so intense for that one hour, then it’s over. You just don’t finish it and put it in the bin; I find it hard to forget about. I struggle with the disappointment of that,” he said. “Days like yesterday I should be getting on with it, it should be a straightforward day, but your mind is elsewhere and it ends up making the day more dramatic really.

“The rest day was good, relaxing, so I can focus on getting out there tomorrow.”

Wiggins uncomfortable in the rain

After appearing extremely cautious on wet roads since crashing late in Friday’s seventh stage, Wiggins said the rain worried him. He lost 1:24 to Nibali and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) on the stage to Pescara.

Fortunately for Wiggins, the forecasters predicted a dry day tomorrow to Altopiano del Montasio. However, rain and cold weather could spell disaster over the coming weeks when the race covers such passes as the Gavia and Galibier.

“I always struggle with the cold; at the moment it hasn’t been that cold when it rained. I don’t like riding in the rain, especially in the mountains like tomorrow,” said Wiggins. “The crash ruffled me a little bit [when it comes to descending]. I was taking a gamble a bit the other day [to Pescara], and yesterday, I wasn’t really on it mentally.”

Even with his openness and vulnerability, Wiggins is out to win another grand tour. He said on Monday that he has not given up, despite rumors he might abandon.

“I won’t be reckless, just be calculating, maybe you take 20 seconds one day and 12 another. You saw how Ryder [Hesjedal] won last year and limited his losses last year,” Wiggins said. “Nibali is strong. I just won’t try to drop him tomorrow, but if he appears weakened in the next weeks, then maybe I can. I beat him by 6:19 in the Tour last year. Even if a lot of that came from the time trials, I beat him in the mountains, as well.”

The Giro is winnable, he added, but it is just going to be a “mammoth task.”

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