Meet the team who made Olympic champion Wiggins Great Britain's tour de force
23:33 GMT, 29 June 2012
When the Tour de France begins in the Belgian city of Liege, Bradley Wiggins will line up as the favourite to triumph and become Britain's first winner of the world's greatest bike race.
Last year's attempt ended in agony when he crashed out with a broken collarbone but his form in 2012 has been imperious, while this year's route – being less mountainous and containing two of the individual time trials at which he excels – suits him.
Tour favourite: Team Sky Bradley Wiggins
Plus, two potential rivals in Andy Schleck (injured) and Alberto Contador (banned) are absent. So how has the 32-year-old double Olympic 4,000 metres individual pursuit champion become the main contender for a 2,200-mile, three-week slog around France
Sportsmail's IVAN SPECK asked key members of Team Sky about the making of a potential Tour winner.
THE TEAM MANAGER Dave Brailsford – British Cycling performance director
I first set eyes on Brad as a
15-year-old and he has always been a thoroughbred. On the road, he had a
fantastic result in 2009 (finishing the Tour fourth).
That was his
breakthrough, a voyage of discovery. But it took him a year to get his
head around the fact that that level then became expected from him.
2010 Tour (when Wiggins finished 23rd) was a fairly negative environment
for all of us, such a bad experience that it spurred us on to work even
I decided that Tim Kerrison was the guy to work with Bradley on
his conditioning and Shane Sutton should support him in the day-to-day
coaching. I said to them, 'I don't care how you do it or what you do,
all I want is 95 per cent compliance from Bradley to the training that
we've decided to do over the next 12 months'.
If he could get to that
level of compliance, the rest would look after itself. He's grown. As
the physical side has developed and his performance has improved, so has
his tactical nous. /06/29/article-2166694-13D49C85000005DC-360_468x376.jpg” width=”468″ height=”376″ alt=”Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain” class=”blkBorder” />
THE MENTOR Shane Sutton – Team Sky head coach
I handle a lot of the mental side of what Brad does – picking him up off the floor when he's down or picking him up off the floor after he's had a big win. Coping with success has always been difficult for Brad. He tends to go in this big deep hole.
You achieve such greatness and then what's next Brad's a complex character but he's one of the greats and just needs to add the Tour to his resume. I believe 100 per cent that he was ready to win the Tour last year and that he was the best that Brad Wiggins had ever been. However, we've found a better Brad Wiggins. We've got a massive amount that we achieved last season and that has given us a new foundation to race a little bit fresher this year.
The results have proved that. My side is to make sure the wheels are turning, that the programme hits training peaks on time, that the doctor turns up to give him his medical check-ups when I need him to. In layman's terms, to make sure the engine is functioning fully before I can go out and drive it for long periods. I try and tick every box, which includes making sure Brad's got family time, quality time, which I know he adores. I love Brad like a son. He's family as far as I'm concerned. I'm not frightened of him. You either comply with what I want or don't waste my time. I don't need to coach Brad.
Before, in 2010, he'd tell his coaches that he'd done three hours on the bike. He hadn't really. He would probably just tell them what they wanted to hear. He knows he can't do that because he'll throw a very good thing out of the window. He can't afford to undo that trust by lying to me. I've got his belief back that he is one of the greats. He'd lost that in 2010. There's little point me being at the races, but every now and then Brad might have a bad day. He'll text me, we'll talk it through and I'll instil the belief. The first big day of the Tour that he wants me there will be the first big time trial on Stage 9, so I'll be there just to keep those belief systems going.
THE TRAINER Tim Kerrison – Team Sky performance analyst
Sky Procycling Coach Tim Kerrison
After the disappointment of the 2010 Tour, we spent a lot of time analysing what it takes to win it and cross-referencing that to Brad. We looked at where he was strong and where he needed improvement.
The perception was always that Brad was a specialist time-trialler and an OK climber. Over the past two years our challenge has been to bring that more into balance. We now view him as the best time-trialler of the climbers and the best climber of the time-triallers. In 2010 we were agreed he didn't spend enough time climbing, so we addressed that.
Last year, we had a training camp in Tenerife. This year, we have had two two-week blocks in Tenerife. They are climbing camps, not altitude training camps. Brad does about 16,000 vertical metres each week there and there is no option but to climb.
I would say there has been a two to three-fold increase in the amount of climbing Brad has done in training between 2010 and 2012. The conditioning in the mountains has helped his time-trialling as well. When he does time-trialling training he will typically do three sessions of two or three hours each week. That is, longer distances than any race time trial, but you need that for technical development because timetrialling requires a specific body position to be held for a long time.
And for physiological development, because aerobic development requires long sessions on the bike. Brad will be racing this Tour at between 71kg and 72kg. That is one or two kilos heavier than last year because there is over 100km of time-trialling so we want to make sure he goes in strong, with more power, and have a little bit of buffer to make sure he is more healthy, more robust.
Too low below your natural body weight and you are open to a suppressed immune system and more vulnerable to getting sick. Brad likes a similar diet throughout the Tour but before the hilly stages, the riders will go on a low-residue diet.
The food will have the same nutritional value but be digested more quickly. The aim in mountain stages is to be as low in weight as possible. It will be low on fibre – so white pasta for example, no wholegrain.
TEAM-MATE Michael Rogers
I was a team-mate of Brad at Team High Road in 2008. One of the things I admire about him is that his character hasn't changed in spite of all his success in the last year. He's the same person he always was. But as a leader I can see he's got a lot of confidence in himself, he's come on in leaps and bounds. He understands he's the leader and he's comfortable with that now, whereas two years ago he wasn't so at ease with it. That comes from success and also the work, the amount of training he's done. It creates a relaxed approach going into the Tour because he knows he's one of the best riders in the world, he's done all the drills and all of the training. He's also confident in the people around him, not only teammates but also the coaching staff and the management. The press see him at moments of very intense concentration, like giving a press conference after climbing off his bike, but off it he's very quiet and I think he enjoys being around his team. He's good at impersonations. He imitates everyone – all the riders and personnel, especially the foreign ones. His German accent is one of his best. He does everyone – Dave Brailsford, Shane Sutton, it doesn't matter who they are. And of course, I cop a lot because of my Aussie accent.