Wiggins focused but emotional
July 20, 2012 18:01 pm
Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins' day began with a knock at the door, featured a stage win for Team Sky road cycling colleague Mark Cavendish and ended with a helicopter ride towards Paris.
Wiggins is two days from becoming the first British winner of the Tour's fabled yellow jersey after successfully negotiating the penultimate road stage by playing an integral role in Cavendish's win on the 222.5-kilometre 18th stage from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde.
The 32-year-old triple Olympic champion retained a commanding lead of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) third, 2mins 41secs behind.
Wiggins was emotional after the final mountains stage, with the maillot jaune in his grasp, but his 11th day in yellow began with a rude awakening. He said: "Just as I woke up this morning it was back to work as every day.
"It was a relief last night but the minute I heard a knock on the door this morning for blood control, it was the start of another day. Since the beginning of this Tour we've been treating every day like it was the last. We went out there with a plan and it was to get there in the final and lead Mark out. It was the safest place to be.
"The Tour is not over until Sunday. You have to concentrate, to refocus and stay in the front all day because the last thing you want at this stage is a little crash or something and there is a lot of them because there are a lot of tired bodies out there."
The day's main crash was caused by a spectator's dog escaping into the peloton, infuriating Philippe Gilbert, who confronted its owner. Wiggins was safely at the front of the main bunch and this evening travelled north to the Team Sky hotel in Chartres in luxury, by air.
The town, south west of Paris, is the venue for the penultimate day's 53.5km time-trial, where Wiggins is expected to solidify his place at the top of the general classification. The prospect of Wiggins winning the Tour on Sunday, which is traditionally a processional stage contested by the sprinters, has energised Britain.
Wiggins added: "It's been humbling really. I'm just a fan of the sport. "It's nice that something like this can inspire so many people.
"I was inspired watching Chris Boardman at the Olympics (in 1992). Our exploits over the last month maybe will inspire some people. It's nice, it's a nice feeling to have some part in that."
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