International Cycling

Wiggins headlines Tour de Yorkshire

2015-04-30 07:54
Bradley Wiggins (AFP)

York - Olympic and world timetrial champion Bradley Wiggins will make his debut for his new WIGGINS team at the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire this weekend.

The 2012 Tour de France winner brought to a close his road career with Team Sky earlier this month when finishing 18th at Paris-Roubaix.

He had decided to return to full-time track cycling in a bid to win a fifth Olympic gold medal at the Rio Games next year, where he will be part of the British team pursuit squad.

He is also set for a crack at beating the World Hour Record in London in June.

But he is taking some time out from his training on the track to be a part of the very first Tour de Yorkshire, which starts on Friday with a 174km opening stage from Bridlington to Scarborough.

Following Saturday's 174km second stage from Selby to York, the race finishes with a lumpy 167km run from Wakefield to Leeds, where the race winner's blue jersey is likely to be decided.

But most of the attention will be on Wiggins as he begins the next chapter in his illustrious career that saw him win three Olympic titles on the track as well as six more at the world championships.

Wiggins has been training on the track in the build up to the Yorkshire race as his world hour attempt is fast approaching on June 7 at the London Olympic velodrome.

Speaking to Sky Sports on Tuesday, the day he turned 35, his mind was focussed on his record attempt.

"The first signs are good," he said.

"You are always a bit cautious coming on to a new track. I have spent so much time riding round Manchester.

"There were quite a few records established at the London Olympics, so it is a fast track and if we can get the conditions right, it will be the best place to do it."

- glorious year -

Wiggins will compete against Team Sky for the first time in Yorkshire, having been the team's marquee signing at their inception in 2010.

His Sky career peaked in a glorious 2012 when he won the greatest race in professional cycling, the Tour de France, while also triumphing in prestigious races such as Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine.

But now he will race against former teammates such as Ben Swift, who is one of the favourites for overall victory in Yorkshire.

And although the tour is only a category 1 race, meaning it's essentially the third level of professional road cycling, Swift warns that the weather and bumpy terrain in Yorkshire will make it a gruelling race.

"A lot of people are going to get a shock," he warned.

"This already feels like a massive race, no doubt because of the Tour last year.

"It took the Tour of Britain quite a few years to build up momentum, but this already feels big."

Even though it may be a lower level event, it has still attracted a number of World Tour teams apart from Sky.

Giant-Alpecin will be led by German sprint star Marcel Kittel, who won the opening stage of the Tour de France in Yorkshire last year and will be familiar to local fans.

It was in part due to those fans that Tour de France organisers ASO decided to create a Tour de Yorkshire.

The fans lining the roads to cheer on the peloton were counted in their millions rather than thousands and it was universally considered a huge success.

"Cycling in Yorkshire is just massive now," added Swift, from Rotherham in South Yorkshire.

"The number of people out on bikes at weekends is just mind-blowing."

Read more on:    bradley wiggins  |  cycling

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