Sunday 25 February 2018

Doping accusations give furious Wiggins yellow fever

Brendan Gallagher

Bradley Wiggins celebrated his first day in the yellow jersey by defending it like a tiger and then unleashing a foul-mouthed tirade against the doubting French press who have been conducting a whispering campaign in recent months aiming to imply his recent successful run is down to doping.

Wiggins had been all sweetness and light and had charmed French television for nearly half an hour when a journalist asked him what his reaction was to people who doubted his achievements and were drawing comparisons with his riding for Team Sky and that of Lance Armstrong with the US Postal Team.

The three-time Olympic champion, who has been his generation's most outspoken proponent of clean riding, exploded at the implication: "I say they're just f*****g w*****s. I cannot be doing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can't ever imagine applying themselves to do anything in their lives.

"It's easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter and write that sort of s**t, rather than get off their a***s in their own lives and apply themselves and work hard at something and achieve something. And that's ultimately it. C***s."

Wiggins always knew that such a question would come at some stage -- Stephen Roche is among many who has warned him the French press and others would either try to derail him or throw doubt on his achievements -- it was just a question of when. The Team Sky leader clearly decided to confront them full on. His outburst, it should be said, was greeted with loud cheers by the majority of the world's press.

Meanwhile, in yesterday's stage, while Frenchman Thibaut Pinot stole away for an outstanding breakaway win, the main action centred on the big guns in a small chasing group. Liquigas team leader Vincenzo Nibali, who has been rubbishing Wiggins' descending ability in the Italian press, set off down the steep descent of the Col de la Croix but much to his chagrin was unable to pull out any advantage on the Sky rider or indeed Chris Froome and Cadel Evans.

Frustrated and perhaps a little chastened, Nibali then sat up to rejoin the yellow jersey group as they chased down Fredrik Kessiakoff, who had led the race for a long time, although they never really threatened to get on terms with Pinot.

Jurgen van den Broek went off on an attack and just as he was caught with 1.5km to go, Evans put the hammer down and just for a second seemed to catch Wiggins napping. A gap momentarily opened before Wiggins engaged top gear and lasered onto the back of Evans' wheel, following him limpet-like all the way to the line.

When Evans veered to the left to desperately seek a better line than the rest of the small bunch, Wiggins went with him regardless of what the others were doing.

"It was a tough old day, but every day in the tour is hard and that's another box ticked," said Wiggins. "Vincenzo is a superb descender, we all know that and we knew he would try and put us under pressure coming off that last climb but we responded."

The team rode superbly again all day. Now comes the time trial and a chance to consolidate.

Indeed. Wiggins should be in his element today on a rolling 41.5km course from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon with no categorised climbs but rather more ups than downs than perhaps the simple route profile indicates.

Evans will also expect to go well but if the recent Dauphine Time Trial is any indication, Wiggins has a chance of increasing his lead while Froome, seventh on the same time as Wiggins yesterday after winning Saturday's stage as his team-mate claimed the yellow jersey, continues to go like a train and could even move from sixth into a podium position. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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