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Wiggins backs Yates for the Giro and thinks Froome capable of doubling up at the Giro and Tour in future

Joseph Delves
8 May 2019

Sir Brad gives us his predictions for the upcoming Giro d’Italia, and claims he didn’t watch Victor Campenaerts claim the Hour Record

Despite being a Grand Tour he was unable to win, Sir Bradley Wiggins seems to have retained some affection for the Giro d’Italia. 'The Giro is probably the hardest of all of them,' he said in a recent interview.

'The Tour is the same all the time you know. The Giro is one of the toughest races and nothing’s final until they finish. We saw last year that riders can come from behind in the final week and the last few days, and make big time gains. It’s an exciting race to watch.'

Ahead of the Giro, which starts this weekend, he recently gave a wide-ranging interview including discussing who he expects to be on the podium come Stage 21's conclusion in Verona.

'Simon Yates is my favourite,' Wiggins explained. 'I just think he really wants to win it. After last year, he’d already rectified the mistakes he made, the way he rode at the La Vuelta by winning that. I think he’s in the perfect position after the races like the Volta a Catalunya and Paris-Nice. He’s improved his time-trialling, so I think this is his time.'

Talking before Team Ineos rider Egan Bernal was ruled out of the race due to a broken collarbone, Wiggins had tipped the young rider as a potential winner. Now of those likely to give Yates a hard time, Wiggins sees Primoz Roglic, 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin and two-time overall winner Vincenzo Nibali as posing the biggest threat.

'They (Bernal and Team Ineos) might be on a different level, but Nibali is a real class rider. You can never underestimate him, or write him off. We saw that a few years ago in the Giro when he looked lost and then he came back in the last few days. And at the Tour last year, I think he was in a really good place when he broke his back.

'It would have been interesting to see what he was capable of. He’s an old-school rider who’s capable of anything, anytime. He’s a real racer like Pantani.'

The Giro/Tour double

Alone out of Wiggins's picks, Nibali will also be attempting to win both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. Now 36-years-old, it’s a feat Wiggins thinks likely to be beyond the Italian.

'I think it would be very difficult for someone like him to do it now in the later stages of his career. He’s never even been that suited to the Tour, even though he won the race.

'The year he won he probably benefited from a few big crashes including Contador and Froome. But he’s a class rider. He’s capable of doing it, but I would have thought he’d have done it by now.'

Of the riders in the current peloton capable of perhaps winning both the Giro and Tour, Wiggins reckons one name jumps out. His former teammate Chris Froome.

'I still think Froome would be capable of it, just because he’s got the constitution to do it. Whether he’ll attempt it I don’t know. He tried it last year and I think he probably feels it didn’t work. He certainly wasn’t the same rider at the Tour that he was in previous years. I think Dumoulin is capable, as he got second in both last year.'

As it stands this year Froome is down to ride the Tour only. But with Team Ineos now lacking a leader in the Giro who knows if he might be a late alteration to the start list.

On the Hour Record

While Wiggins will be watching the Giro, there’s one recent cycling event he claims initially passed him by. On 16th April Victor Campenaerts bettered Wiggins's Hour Record. Although Wiggins says he wasn’t aware until several days later.

'I didn’t watch it. I didn’t see any of it,' he explained. 'I found out a few days later. I was in Porto for the Champions League match, so I missed it all really.'

That’s despite magnanimously tweeting his congratulations to the Belgian hours after his record-breaking ride.

Perhaps Wiggins was so confident in Campenaerts’s ability he pre-scheduled his tweet. In the run-up, he’d tipped the rider to do well. Having revived interest in the Hour Record, Wiggins seems happy to have now passed it on.

'I think it’s really good for the sport, it’s moved on, someone else is taking it now. It shows the sport is progressing. I like Victor, he’s a good rider. I know him well, I knew if he started it, he’d win it.'

Of the riders that might push the distance for the Hour even further Wiggins thinks Dumoulin is an obvious choice. That’s if he and the team were to invest time in the effort.

A more outside chance is also the young Danish rider Michael Bjorg, who at 19 is already being tipped.

'He’s a real big talent. Give him five years and I’m sure he could break it. I’m a big fan of him, so someone like him in the future definitely can go and get the record.'

Current Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas is another rider he thinks capable if Team Ineos could be persuaded to give him the two or three months necessary to train for an attempt.

'He’s probably trying to win another Tour de France in the near future. So, I think that’s more the restriction with someone like Geraint, actually finding the time to do it.'

Bradley Wiggins will be an expert pundit for Eurosport’s exclusive live coverage of the Giro d’Italia