Wiggins: ‘Paris-Nice is stepping stone to Tour’

A win at Paris-Nice would reconfirm his status as a front-runner for the Tour

SISTERON, France – Bradley Wiggins (Sky) says his dominance this week at Paris-Nice is all part of a master plan to hit many of these same French roads with the cylinders at full-throttle come July.

Barring disaster in Saturday’s penultimate stage, Wiggins will carry a slender, but important, six-second advantage in Sunday’s climbing time trial up Col d’Eze.

“This is a stepping stone for the Tour de France,” Wiggins said Friday. “My training for the Tour began on November 1. We’re four or five months into that plan. I just happen to be in really good condition right now. We’re getting into the last stages in that program for July. Everything is on track for the Tour.”

Wiggins wants to win Paris-Nice for several reasons. Firstly, it would reconfirm his status as a front-runner for the Tour.

Wiggins truly believes he can win every major race he starts. And winning Paris-Nice would be a huge confidence boost in a process that started years ago as he began his transformation from a track specialist to an all-round, GC candidate.

And it would also confirm his position within Sky, which will be struggling to bring a balanced team to the Tour to help world champion Mark Cavendish in the sprints and Wiggins in the GC.

Defending the yellow jersey all week has also been a big plus for Team Sky, which does not have the depth or experience in grand tours that other teams have, such as RadioShack or Saxo Bank.

“You come here with a good team and have a big hit. It’s not just about training,” Wiggins said. “As a team, defending a jersey, you cannot do that on the road in training, it’s a massive learning curve in terms of what we did last year at Dauphiné.”

Wiggins will have the advantage of starting last up the Col d’Eze, which will give him time references to his top adversaries, but he said his only rival will be himself.

“It’s every man for himself. You’ve got to have the legs. You cannot hide on Col d’Eze. There’s no point for me to sit on the start ramp and think about how Lieuwe (Westra) might be doing,” he said. “My biggest adversary will be how I prepare, how I get in my zone. I will not think about anything else.”