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Wiggins: ‘No rainbow curse’

"April is a long way away, I'm pleased to be fairly close today," Bradley Wiggins says after coming up short of a TT win in Qatar

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LUSAIL CITY, Qatar (VN) — Bradley Wiggins’ debut ride in the world champion’s rainbow jersey Tuesday was without a win, but team Sky’s ‘Sir’ has other opportunities after the Tour of Qatar.

“Yeah, of course, it’s a dream [to win in the rainbow jersey], but there’s still a process with time trialling, whether you’re world champion or not,” Wiggins said next to the Lusail Moto GP race track.

“I’ve got Paris-Nice, and I think De Panne, so there’s a few more opportunities yet before you start writing about the curse of the rainbow jersey.

Wiggins rode 14:12 over 10.9 kilometers in Lusail City north of Doha. He knocked former world hour record holder, Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) off the top spot, but could not stop Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Niki Terpstra (Etixx-Quick Step).

The tall, bearded Londoner won the world championship time trial in Ponferrada, Spain, in late September to earn the right to wear the rainbow jersey. It was his last race of the 2014. The Tour of Qatar is his first of 2015 and part of a march — or “a process” — toward Paris-Roubaix on April 12 and an hour record attempt in early June.

The stage was more a solo effort in a classic than a time trial or an attempt on the hour record, which Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) set at 52.491 kilometers Sunday. Winds of up to 30mph blew over the eastern shores of the petroleum-rich state and kicked up sand. Several riders fought to keep their bikes upright simply to finish the stage.

Wiggins rode to Sky’s team car and then warmed down in the parking lot adjacent to the Moto GP track. When Cancellara finished, he rode back, changed, and analyzed his ride.

“It was very difficult, and on road bikes to get comfortable at that power. It’s not something you’re used to. It was different for everyone, but you still see the same names at the top,” Wiggins said.

“You don’t know how everybody else will do. I’ve seen Fabian here a few times before, and sometimes he’s been in the last group, then on other days he’s on fire like he was today.

“We’ve not done any racing, so you don’t know where they’re at. It was the same for myself, it was only a month ago we were all drinking and getting fat at Christmas and then you come here looking to do a world class performance. I was pleased to be fairly close to him.”

Terpstra, the defending Tour of Qatar champion, won the stage at 14:03 and took over the race lead. Cancellara took second and Wiggins third at nine seconds back.

“What did I learn? Nothing really. Unfortunately, the world of cycling puts a massive emphasis on this race, but everybody’s at different stages of preparation,” said Wiggins

“Tom Boonen and that are always good here, Fabian’s been up and down the last few years. This time last year I was scraping around the back of Ruta del Sol, I always come back to think where I was, and where I am. April is a long way away, I’m pleased to be fairly close today.”

He will have two or three more chances to win in the rainbow jersey before Paris-Roubaix, which Terpstra won in 2014. The Paris-Nice stage race in March features an opening and closing time trial and the Three Days of De Panne, if Wiggins races, has one, as well.