Bradley Wiggins favored to notch first Tour de France title for U.K.
Paris, France (4E Sports) – British cyclist Bradley Wiggins is heavily favored to become the first Brit to win a Tour de France trophy, thanks to a dominant Team Sky behind him.
A solid team in the Tour de France is important as this gives a rider control of the race, an advantage enjoyed by Lance Armstrong, who won the tour from 1999 to 2004 with the strong U.S. Postal team.
“The superiority was the same,” Pedro Horrillo, a former Tour de France rider who now writes a column for Spain’s El Pais newspaper, said. “They acted like they owned the road.”
Like U.S. Postal, Team Sky’s members rode in a line without wearing any sunglasses while hardly showing any emotion.
“It’s a symptom of concentration. They were very focused,” Horrillo said. “It’s not spectacular but it’s effective.”
Team Sky’s dominance was evident when Wiggins defeated defending champion Cadel Evans in the Criterium du Dauphine in early June.
U.K. bookmaker William Hill said Wiggins has a 6-5 chance to win the tournament while Evans has a 2-1 chance, meaning a successful $5 bet on Wiggins would yield $6 plus the stake.
But Wiggins downplayed his chances of winning the Tour, saying he is just one of the favorites and anybody can win the event.
“I am not the favorite for the Tour de France, but I’m one of the favorites for sure,” Wiggins said.
The three-week race, which covers 2,173 miles, starts tomorrow with a 3.8-mile prologue in Liege, Belgium.
Wiggins’ chances have improved because two-time champion Alberto Contador’s suspension for drug use and the injury to Andy Schleck. Wiggins won two of Britain’s eight cycling gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
“We can be confident he’ll put up a very, very good show,” Wiggins’ Sky teammate Mark Cavendish said.
Marc Madiot, manager of the Francaise des Jeux team, is wary of Team Sky’s expected dominance of the Tour, saying it may become dull if it controls the pace of the race.
“It’s possible it could be boring for the spectator,” Madiot said. “Team Sky is there to win the race, not to thrill the fans.”