Sir Bradley Wiggins believes he is capable of a Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double this year.
Wiggins, who became the first Briton to win the Tour last year before adding Olympic gold ten days later, has made the 3,405-kilometre Giro – which begins this Saturday – his top priority but is adamant the Tour remains firmly on his agenda.
When he does get to France, Wiggins wants to go for victory rather than playing a support role for Team Sky colleague Chris Froome.
Asked about achieving a different kind of double in 2013, Wiggins said yesterday: “As the years have gone on, I’ve thought that maybe I’m capable of this now. Two years ago, I never would have even imagined trying to win the Giro because it was always about trying to win the Tour or trying to get on the podium at the Tour.”
Wiggins believes winning a second of cycling’s three Grand Tours would elevate him to a different level.
“I think it puts you in a different bracket as a cyclist if you win the Giro and the Tour,” he said.
The first hurdle towards that goal begins next week in Italy, where Wiggins must beat home favourite Vincenzo Nibali and title-holder Ryder Hesjedal to take the famous pink jersey.
Wiggins made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro in 2003 and the race has always had a special place in his heart.
“It’s about the challenge of it, some of the people who have won it and some of the epic stages there have been,” he said.
It is also a very different challenge to winning the Tour.
“It’s more mountainous, there are steeper climbs, historically, and the challenges come much earlier in the event,” he said.
Wiggins’ form in Italy could determine whether Team Sky make him or Froome their leader in France, but Wiggins has no intention of letting his title go without a fight.
“At this stage, all being well, it may be that we end up joint leaders for that first week until the racing decides,” he said.