Cycling: Wiggins woe as injury forces Tour de France withdrawal
Bradley Wiggins has suffered the ultimate Tour de France heartache with a knee injury forcing him to abandon his bid to defend the Yellow Jersey.
The Briton admitted defeat in his battle to regain full fitness in time for the gruelling 23-day Tour, which begins on June 29.
Wiggins and Team Sky made the decision after it emerged he had been unable to train properly since pulling out of the Giro d'Italia two weeks ago with a chest infection.
It transpired that the 32-year-old also developed tendinitis in his left knee during the Giro, for which he wore surgical tape and which was initially thought to be manageable.
But after doctors ordered his withdrawal through illness, a more thorough assessment exposed the true extent of the injury.
Large periods of rest between training failed to alleviate the problem and, after consulting a specialist on Wednesday, Wiggins was advised to stay off his bike for five days. That left him almost no time to be ready for the Tour of Switzerland – which starts next Saturday – and therefore with insufficient racing in his legs before the real Tour begins.
No defending champion has pulled out of the Tour through injury since Stephen Roche did so 25 years ago, and many teams might have indulged a 90pc fit Wiggins purely because of his status.
But Team Sky have a near zero-tolerance policy when it comes to form and fitness, and Wiggins' inability to train to maximum intensity less than a month out from the race saw that ruthlessly enforced. Wiggins described it as "a huge disappointment".
"I desperately wanted to be there, for the team and for all the fans along the way – but it's not going to happen," he said.
"I can't train the way I need to train and I'm not going to be ready. Once you accept that, it's almost a relief not having to worry about the injury and the race against time." (© Daily Telegraph, London)