Bradley Wiggins on Wednesday all but admitted that he stands little chance of defending his Tour de France title as organisers unveiled a brutal, mountain-heavy course for its 100th edition.
The 32-year-old Team Sky rider this year became the first British rider to win cycling’s most celebrated race but with a drastic cut in the number of his favoured time-trials next year, he instead said he would concentrate on the Tour of Italy.
“My objective will be the Giro (d’Italia),” Wiggins said at the 2013 Tour de France route presentation in the French capital.
“It’s going to be complicated for me to target the Tour but I hope Sky win the Tour with Froome and with my help”
Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins
“It’s going to be complicated for me to target the Tour but I hope Sky win the Tour with Froome and with my help.
“I wanted to win the Tour at least once but now I want to win the Giro.” Wiggins, who followed up his Tour win with gold in the Olympic road time-trial in front of home crowds in London, was speaking after organisers said the peloton will have to negotiate four tough summit finishes on their way to Paris next year.
The route includes a gruelling stage 18 when the peloton must ride up the punishing Alpe d’Huez climb twice just four days before the Champs Elysees finish on July 21.
The route also features three consecutive mountain stages during the final week, including the penultimate stage.
“It is what it is, you know,” said Wiggins when asked about the double ascent of the giant Alpe d’Huez.
“It’s the same for everybody and you’ve just got to do it but it’s going be a tough day for sure.”
Room for Froome
Time-trials have been cut by a third in 2013, which will work against Wiggins and play into the hands of Froome, as well as former champions Cadel Evans of Australia and Spaniard Alberto Contador.
Froome finished runner-up this year and was considered a leading contender for the coveted yellow jersey had he not been riding in support of his Team Sky leader.
The 27-year-old Briton gave a guarded reaction to next year’s course, saying only: “There are going to be some very testing stages but I’m going to have to go away and study the route more closely.
“The final three climbs are very tough. I think it’s stage 17, 18 and 19 are all very tough. It’s going to be an action packed Tour.”
The Kenya-born rider admitted that he was also surprised at the stage 15 finish on the famous Mont Ventoux, which comes at the end of more than 200km of racing.
Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour in 2011 and said he was undeterred by the proliferation of climbs on the course: there are 28 over 20 stages, including three in the Alps that could decide the winner.
“I hope to be back to my top form and coming here today I feel much more comfortable with this course,” said Evans, who was off form in last year’s Tour and was later diagnosed with a virus.
“It’s nice and mixed with plenty of variety and I just need to get back to top health for next July. It’s nice to come here and talk about racing after all that’s happened lately,” he said, referring to the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.