Yesterday’s stage in Le Tour proved that Alberto Contador will be (barring accidents) the worthy winner this year. Almost unbelievably, he beat Olympic time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara by 3 seconds. Time trialling was regarded as Contador’s weakness – not anymore!
The good news for Britain is that Bradley Wiggins now trails Lance Armstrong by just 11 seconds on the general classification. If he can just pull out those precious few seconds from the American on Mont Ventoux Bradley will be the first ever podium finisher for Britain (remember the Irish rider Stephen Roche won the Tour in 1987 and Sean Kelly won the green points jersey four times).
What does Wiggins face on Saturday?
Mount Ventoux is up there with Alpe d’Huez and the Tourmalet as the daddy of all Tour climbs and is particularly poignant to British cycling fans, being the site of Tom Simpson’s death in 1967.
The climb of Ventoux is very long and hot, but sometimes perversely cold and often windy. But, as Wiggins suggested, it is a one-off and doesn’t have the sudden savage changes of gradient that proved so difficult during Wednesday’s run to Le Grand-Bonard, the only mountain day this year when Wiggins lost ground to his immediate rivals. It is the kind of mountain that Wiggins has added to his repetoire, terrain in which he can flourish.
We have our fingers and toes crossed for Wiggins. A podium win by him would give us cause for a double celebration – Contador for Spain and Wiggins for Britain.