Bradley Wiggins Starts Assault on Tour by Winning Paris-Nice

Will ProtheroeContributor IIIMarch 12, 2012

SISTERON, FRANCE - MARCH 09:  Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and Team SKY retained his race lead and yellow jersey after stage six of the 2012 Paris-Nice cycle race from Suze-la-Rousse to Sisteron on March 9, 2012 in Suze, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Bradley Wiggins signaled his intent for the season yesterday by winning Paris-Nice and becoming the first Briton since Tom Simpson in 1967 to win the 'Race to the Sun'.

Wiggins produced an exceptional time-trial on the final day up the Col d'Eze to win the race by eight seconds over Holland's Lieuwe Westra.

Paris-Nice is the first race in the calender where potential Tour de France contenders can show their colours, and Wiggins' performance has to confirm him as one of the favourites for the maillot jaune in July.

The Team Sky rider established his lead on the second stage, when he escaped with 20 other riders to finish 2:29 ahead of the peloton.

Wiggins was run close by fellow escapee Westra.

The unheralded Vacansoleil rider rode exceptionally throughout the race, gaining six seconds on the field in a solo stage five win into Mende.

Westra attacked the final time trial with gusto, determined to make the most of his unexpected opportunity. At the intermediate checkpoint, he had gained two seconds on the leader.

But Wiggins would not be intimidated, and maintained his composure to beat Westra by two seconds on the day and eight seconds overall.

Attentions will now start to Wiggins attempt to win the Tour de France this summer.

With Alberto Contador's suspension, the four main contenders for yellow in Paris are Wiggins, the Schleck brothers and current champion Cadel Evans.


This years course seems to be far more suited to Wiggins and Evans.

The course has over 100 km of time trialling, compared with just three mountaintop finishes.

If Evans and Wiggins are able to hold the wheels of the Schleck brothers (which won't be easy as the steep sections of this years tour are seriously steep) then they should decide the Tour in the time trials.

Cadel will be one of the hardest men to shake off in the mountains, so it will more than likely come down to the stages against the clock to separate the two riders.

If Bradley can time trial in the Tour as well as he did yesterday, then he should be considered a serious threat.

Of course, we should not take form in Paris-Nice as a foolproof guide as who to look at for the Tour.

The Time Trial in question was only prologue length and Evans was not competing.

What it did show was Wiggins' confidence in his ability, and Team Sky's ability to ride on the front of the peloton to protect a lead.

Could this summer produce the first ever British Tour de France winner? Comment below.