Britain’s top road cyclists, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, have found it tough going in the Tour of Andalucia this week. Whilst still early in the season, and with both cyclists focusing firmly on this Summer’s Tour de France, expectations were high for Wiggins and Cavendish going into the event. With both cyclists finding themselves ensconced within the tours mid-order they will now be viewing the event as fitness training ahead of tougher tests to come.
The Tour of Andalucia is one of the toughest early season tours, spread over five stages and taking in mountainous terrain as well as a short time trial. The penultimate stage, the 10.9km time trial in Malaga provided the perfect opportunity for Wiggins to make up time on the leaders but although he finished second on the stage he remains in 58th place going into the final day.
The stage was won by Denmark’s track specialist Alex Rasmussen with Wiggins five seconds back. Michael Rogers, the Australian cyclist who races for Team HTC-Columbia, finished fourth in the time trial but that was enough for him to wrest the overall lead from Sergio Padilla Bellon who had led from the start of the tour going into the Malaga circuit.
The final stage takes place today, a testing 161km route from Torrox Costa to Antequera. Rogers leads by 19 seconds from Jurgen Van Den Broeck, and that significant advantage should see him crowned King of Andalucia. Wiggins finds himself in 58th place heading for Antequera and Cavendish is further back in 81st.
Wiggins, the leader of newly formed and ambitious British outfit Team Sky, made his seasonal debut in the Tour of Qatar earlier this month. His performance in Qatar was below expectation but his team remain confident that he will be in peak condition for the Tour de France. Team Sky have made a blistering start to their first competitive year but their best placed cyclist in Andalucia is currently Thomas Lofkvist in tenth place.
Cavendish is making his seasonal bow in Andalucia, having cancelled previous engagements due to a painful tooth abscess. At times he has looked off the pace, but he will undoubtedly gain fitness as his season progresses. The ability of both these British riders is beyond doubt and I expect more heroics from them when we again reach France.
Before I sign off, any new news on the Riviera trip? Well I have finally decided to just go ahead and book the cannes villa that looked like a really good price. I hope you all agree or I will be seriously out of pocket.