by Barnaby CHESTERMAN
ROUBAIX, France, April 14, 2014 (AFP) – Former Tour de France winner
Bradley Wiggins vowed to earn his place on the Sky team to support defending
champion Chris Froome in July after finishing ninth at Paris-Roubaix.
Wiggins put in an impressive showing at Sunday’s ‘Hell of the North’ by
coming home in a 10-strong group 20 seconds behind winner Niki Terpstra.
He had to settle for ninth in the 257km cobbled classic but a week after
showing he could manage such distances with the leaders by finishing 32nd at
the Tour of Flanders, less than two minutes back from winner Fabian
Cancellara, the 2012 Tour winner is focussed on winning a place on Sky’s team.
Wiggins said that although he wants to come back for another crack at the
‘Queen of the Classics’, this result hasn’t changed his plans to return to the
track next year, nor to try to be a part of July’s Tour.
But he admitted he is not in pole position for that, as British Cycling
coach Shane Sutton said earlier this week.
“I’d love to come back (to Paris-Roubaix) the next few years,” said
Wiggins, a four-time Olympic gold medallist, including three times on the
“(But) I don’t think it changes anything, I’ve stated I want to go back to
the track next year for the Olympics (in 2016).
“As most of you probably saw the other day, Shane said I probably won’t
make the Tour team, so it’s nice that I’ve got this on the side and I’m not
just a one-trick pony.
“It’s been fantastic, I’ve been with this group for the last week and it’s
a shame there’s not another one next week because it would have been nice to
“There’s been such a good spirit in the team, it’s kind of like the end of
term: we’ve all got to go home and come back after the summer holidays.”
Wiggins’s star has dimmed somewhat since his outstanding year in 2012 when
he became the first Briton ever to win the Tour de France and followed it up
with a time-trial gold at his home Olympics.
He suffered a disastrous 2013 when he pulled out of the Giro d’Italia due
to illness and then missed the defence of his Tour title with injury.
He also had to watch as Froome succeeded him as Tour champion and firmly
established himself as the Team Sky leader.
Wiggins, though, is determined to earn his place alongside Froome on the
French roads in July.
“I’ll do everything possible to try and be there but obviously as (Sutton)
said, it is Chris’s team and he’ll have a big say in who he puts around him
and who he’s confident having in front of him in the mountains,” said Wiggins.
“My job is to continue doing what I’m doing, go to (the Tour of) California
and get the result I want there, come back and put in a good performance and
good team role in the (Criterium du) Dauphine, and warrant a Tour place.
“Because one thing this team has is a lot of strength in depth,
particularly in the mountains.
“It’s not as simple as saying ‘you’ve won the Tour so you’re an automatic
on the start sheet’.
“I would love to be there, I’ve proved I’ve got the legs at the moment and
I’m coming to where I need to be now, and if I can just push on really.”