Bradley Wiggins has given the strongest indication yet that he will not defend his Tour de France title.
Speaking in Paris yesterday at the launch of the 2013 Tour, Wiggins said his priority for next season would be the Giro d’italia.
The Londoner, who in July became the first British rider to win cycling’s biggest race, said he was more likely to ride in support of teammate, Chris Froome, in next year’s centenary edition of the Tour.
“It’s more than likely I’ll ride in a supporting role for Chris. It was always about winning one Tour de France. I’ve done it and I’m very proud the way I did it. I want to be in a successful team and if that’s Chris [as leader] then so be it.
“My priority is the Giro d’Italia,” he said.
Next year’s Giro will feature more than 92 kilometres of time trialing; Wiggins’ specialty and the principle method by which he won the Tour de France this year.
The race against the clock will begin as early as the second stage with a 17.4km team time trial from Ischia to Forio.
The first individual time trial arrives on stage eight with a 55.5km test from Gabicce Mare to Saltara over a rolling parcours of low hills.
Stage eighteen will host the final time trial; a 19.5km ascent from Mori to Polsa with an average gradient of 5.2 per cent and a maximum of 10 per cent.
Yesterday’s unveiling of the 2013 Tour De France route confirmed speculation that it would be more favourable to climbers.
Froome’s superior climbing abilities may make him Team Sky’s strongest contender for overall victory.
“I want to be in a successful team and if that’s [riding for] Chris, then so be it,” said Wiggins. “He’ll have to grow some sideburns though,” he joked.
The 2013 Tour route will feature six mountain stages, including Mont Ventoux and a double ascent of Alpe d’Huez.
By contrast, the total amount of time trialing will be reduced by 30km next year, from 95km to 65km.
Speaking at yesterday’s launch, Froome confirmed his willingness to lead the team at next year’s Tour.
He won stage seven of this year’s Tour, from Tomblaine to La Plance des Belles Filles, and was well-placed to contest the sprint for a second victory at the climax of stage 17 from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Peyragudes, but remained with Wiggins, allowing Alejandro Valverde a clear run.