Muscat: Bradley Wiggins has spelled out his objectives for the season, with the British cycling star focusing on a debut win in the Tour of Italy rather than a defence of his Tour de France title.
Wiggins gave a preview of how he sees his year panning out for Team Sky after filling a lowly 74th in the Tour of Oman on Saturday behind teammate and winner Chris Froome.
Explaining his decision to target the Giro, Wiggins, who is expected to play a supporting role to help 2012 Tour runner-up Froome win the cycling blue riband event this year, said: “I just wanted a new set of challenges.
“It took a long time for the motivation to come back. After the Olympics there was a long period when I thought ‘what am I gonna do next this year’, because I put so much in 18 months for that Tour project.
“I knew I wanted to go back and compete at the high level again, I didn’t want to retire.
“I had to find something that would inspire me to go and train, and for me the Giro was something else I really would love to try and win.
“So, for me, it was just about having a different set of challenges.”
Whatever 2013 serves up Wiggins is acutely aware he will be hard pushed to match the highs of 2012 when he became Britain’s first Tour de France winner, won a fourth Olympic gold medal on the streets of London, was awarded a knighthood and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Reflecting on his remarkable season he said: “I don’t think people fully appreciate the four years it took to get there last year, and what that entailed.
“We went from 2009 when people said ‘it’s just a waste a money, he’s never gonna win the Tour, he’s a flash in the pan’, to a pretty disastrous 2010 and then there you go ‘it’s a confirmation, he is a disaster, just a waste of money, why have they invested in him’.
“To 2011, really going back to the drawing board, and change it all around, and then 2012, the Tour, the London Olympics.”
He describes the Giro as “a new challenge”, explaining that the race has a particular significance for him.
“I think it goes back to my childhood really,” he said.
“It was one of the few races that actually came on the telly other than the Tour de France, when I was a teenager, and so I grew up reading magazines, and stuff like this; and the Giro just stuck in my mind.
“I don’t know if it was just the pink jersey, or I remember [Andrew] Hampsten [1988 Giro winner] climbing up in the snow, things like that, it was just quite an inspirational thing.
“It’s just a lovely race, it’s the only race in cycling where they really never mention doping in the whole race, it’s kind of refreshing in some ways.
“When you’re there and you’re in it, it’s just for the racing, and people come out to watch the sport, and the spectators idolise the racers, it’s a bit of a free for all you know, it’s chaos at times.”
Despite his lowly Oman placing — “I was pretty mediocre to be honest” — he sounded an optimistic note in terms of his fitness levels.
“I should be pretty ready to go. Weight is a massive thing for me. Because I’m not a natural climber. I’m 82kg in the off season. 70kg in the Tour. It takes me a long time to get to that, it’s a lot of hard work, I’m 75 now.”