Wiggins may go for Giro-Tour double in 2013
WIGAN, England (AP) - Bradley Wiggins may try to pull off the rare Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double, after all.
The Giro is his priority this year, and Wiggins has previously suggested he will be a support rider for Team Sky colleague and British compatriot Chris Froome at the Tour.
But Wiggins, last year's Tour champion, said Monday he could try to win the French race again.
"At this stage, all being well, it may be that we end up joint leaders for that first week until the racing decides,'' Wiggins said Monday of his rivalry with Froome for the yellow jersey. "Without racing against each other when we hit the mountains or whatever, the racing decides naturally who the leader becomes.
"It may be that we both stay in contention until that week, Chris wins the mountain stage, takes the yellow jersey in which case there is a natural hierarchy there. And then I try and finish second as he did last year. That may not happen, though.''
The three-week Giro starts Saturday. The Tour is June 29-July 21.
Only seven riders have completed the Giro-Tour double in the same year, including Wiggins' idol, Miguel Indurain. The last person to do it was Marco Pantani in 1998.
"As the years have gone on, I've thought that maybe I'm capable of this now,'' Wiggins said, two days before flying out to Italy to take part in his first Giro since 2010. "Two years ago I never would have even imagined trying to win the Giro because it was always about trying to win the Tour or trying to get on the podium at the Tour.
"Now I've managed to win the Tour, you think, `If I'm capable of doing that, if we keep training this way and look at the improvements over the last 18 months.''
The rivalry between Wiggins and Froome has been a hot topic since the Britons placed 1-2 in the 2012 Tour. Wiggins has said they aren't close friends away from racing and he will never forget Froome attacking him on different mountain stages during last year's Tour, even though he was supposed to be helping Wiggins win the yellow jersey.
Froome isn't racing the Giro, which is Wiggins' top target as he looks for new motivation after winning the gold medal in the Olympic time trial in London last year.
The Giro is less celebrated but just as grueling as the Tour. Wiggins said the Giro was less "pompous'' than the Tour and was more a race for cycling aficionados than its French equivalent.
Renowned for his ability in the time trials, Wiggins has trained hard on his mountain racing over the winter and spring and believes he is a match for anyone.
"I'm less concerned about the climbing than I used to be,'' Wiggins said. "A year ago, that was the thing that always concerned me, whether I was going to hold out on the climbs. But after what we've done this year, I think I've got more confidence and belief in my climbing ability than ever.''
Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali is likely to be Wiggins' main rival at the Giro.
"This race is more suited to him and it's his pride and joy,'' Wiggins said. "There's a lot at stake for him in this race. He's the big Italian favorite, he's trained for this and he's not doing the Tour afterwards. It's his one.
"I don't fear him, I respect him.''