DOHA, Qatar (VN) — Bradley Wiggins is starting the Tour of Qatar on Sunday to win and to help close his Team Sky chapter.
“I want to put myself in the best position possible to do the best [time trial] ride and see what happens. If that lands me in a half-decent GC spot then I’ll try and defend it,” 34-year-old Wiggins said.
“I said that I wouldn’t just come here and get the training in. It’s about looking further down the line. I can see the end. I get parole in April, I’m happy about that. It’s going into a new chapter in my life.”
The 2012 Tour de France winner has switched his focus for his final years racing on the road. After placing ninth in the 2014 Paris-Roubaix, he will again aim for the “Queen of the Classics” on April 12 before retiring from Sky and aiming for the hour record this summer and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The last Sky chapter begins Sunday in the oil-rich Persian Gulf state of Qatar. Wiggins, with his hair longer on top to look more like Taylor Phinney than mod, spoke ahead of a training ride around Qatar’s capital city of Doha. Afterward, he and teammates, including American Danny Pate, sat on the seaside with coffee.
“The pressure of the Tour, and weight loss, is a nice burden not to have to worry about any more,” said Wiggins.
He will, however, push himself towards his next goals as he did with the Tour win, with the four Olympic gold medals, and the world championship time trial title last September in Ponferrada, Spain.
The Tour of Qatar features a 10.9km time trial on stage 3 of the six-day race. It offers Wiggins the first chance to wear his rainbow jersey and to gain advantage on the race overall.
“I forgot about [the worlds win]. It was the last race of the season. After a week or two you forget about it,” Wiggins said.
“My kit turned up in January, and I had all normal skinsuits in my case. I rang the team to ask if they’d forgotten. I said, ‘Are you aware I’m world champion?’ The world champion skinsuit turned up in the post last Wednesday, which was a little reminder.”
Wiggins trained on a white and gold road bike that he could use for the time trial as the Tour of Qatar prohibits normal time trial bikes. His next time to wear the rainbow jersey will be in the Paris-Nice stage race March 8-15, which includes two time trials.
From Qatar, Wiggins will travel to northern Europe for a schedule tailor-fit for Paris-Roubaix: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 28, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on March 1, Paris-Nice, E3 Harelbeke March 27, and Scheldeprijs on April 8. He could squeeze in the Ronde van Vlaanderen on April 5, a week before Paris-Roubaix on April 12.