SIR Bradley Wiggins wrapped up victory in the Tour of California as fellow Briton Mark Cavendish sprinted to the final-stage win.
Wiggins came home in the front group at the end of the 121.7-kilometre eighth stage to finish the race 30 seconds ahead of Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) and claim his first win of the season.
And he paid tribute to Team Sky colleagues who supported him over the three ascents of the Rock Store climb. Wiggins said on the Team Sky website: “I say it every day, but without those guys I wouldn’t be in this position. You can’t do it on your own and, as strong as my performance was individually in the time trial, my team have taken the strain all week.
“Those young Americans in my team, Joe [Dombrowski], Ian [Boswell] and Danny [Pate] have done a fantastic job.
“Even today they didn’t give up the chase and came back after they’d been distanced on the climbs. This is a fantastic way to finish.”
Asked how highly he rated his victory, Wiggins added: “It’s right up there. It’s always an honour to win the yellow jersey.
“I set my stool out to win the Tour of California and I’ve done that now. At 34, it’s nice to still be winning at this age.” Wiggins, who is in the last year of his current contract with Team Sky, also vowed that if he rides in the Tour de France in July it will be in support of team-mate Chris Froome, the defending champion.
“Chris wants to win a second tour and I think everyone’s behind that, including myself, and he’s defending champion and he’s earned the right to do that,” said Wiggins who won the Tour in 2012 when Froome finished second.
“[If] I am fortunate enough to be at the tour it will be in support of Chris. I continue to stand by that.”
Cavendish had to work hard to edge German John Degenkolb by a few centimetres in yesterday’s sprint finish, with Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, the winner of Saturday’s seventh stage, in third place. “I’m in the form of my life,” said Cavendish afterwards. Seven riders managed to edge clear of the pack after a frantic opening to the stage, with Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Jack Bobridge (Belkin) breaking away from that group on the second climb.
But the pair were hauled in on the next ascent and the Team Sky riders were able to respond to further attacks to keep Wiggins well-placed.
Cavendish lost contact with the group late in the race, but his Omega Pharma team-mates worked hard to bring him back with around 10km to go and then give him the platform to launch his sprint finish.
The Manxman stayed on the wheel of Sagan (Cannondale) before bursting through to take his second stage win of the race.