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Wiggins: 'Bernal would have cracked' at Tour de France if not for landslide

Joe Robinson
4 Aug 2020

Wiggins also expects Thomas to take yellow at the Tour later this summer

Tour de France 2012 winner Bradley Wiggins believes defending champion Egan Bernal would have lost last year's race had it not been for extreme weather shortening the stage.

The former champion believes Bernal would have 'cracked' after launching an audacious solo attack on the slopes of the Col de l'Iseran 40km from the finish and that defending champion Geraint Thomas would have eventually ridden into yellow.

Ultimately a landslide further along the course prevented the stage from reaching its finish in Tignes and Bernal was awarded his time gap at the time the stage ended, enough to take him into the yellow jersey and towards victory in Paris.

Talking on The Bradley Wiggins Show podcast, the 40-year-old believes that the shortened stage was what handed Bernal the title and that he will not have the 'automatic right' to defend his title come August.

'Last year, Geraint Thomas was the defending champion at the Tour de France and Bernal was allowed to shine. I think had we had the stage to Tignes completed last year, I think Bernal would have cracked and Geraint would have won the Tour that day,' said Wiggins.

'Now you’d have to say, because Bernal was allowed to win the Tour de France last year, with Geraint as defending champion, the same should apply the other way around this year and Bernal is not granted that automatic right to defend the race.'

Wiggins then added that he believes Team Ineos will approach this year's race with a two-pronged attack of Bernal and Thomas, rather than a trio with the departing Chris Froome, and that he believes it will be the Welshman that comes out on top.

'I actually think Geraint will win the Tour de France this year, no question about it, I don’t think there is an argument within that team.' 

Team Ineos's party line still suggests that they will line up at the Tour's Grand Depart with Froome, Bernal and Thomas sharing leadership. However this will likely rely on their performances over the next month.

Bernal and Froome are currently both riding the Route d'Occitanie stage race in France with the Colombian taking the race lead after winning Stage 3's mountain-top finish to the Col de Beyrede on Monday. Froome finished 34th, 5 minutes 11 seconds adrift having worked for Bernal earlier in the stage.

Thomas will then join the duo at the Tour de l'Ain stage race which starts on Friday 7th August before all three riders line up for the Criterium du Dauphine that begins on Wednesday 12th August.