THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MILAN, Italy — Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins has confirmed that the Giro d’Italia is his main priority this year.
"The Giro d’Italia is my new challenge, my inspiration, the new fire burning inside me," Wiggins told race organizer Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday. "I think winning it, for certain aspects, will be more difficult than winning the Tour."
Wiggins also won the time trial at last year’s London Olympics before home fans, and the Giro route should favour his ability at racing against the clock.
Beginning in Naples on May 4 and ending in Brescia on May 26, the race features three time trials for a total of 92 kilometres (57 miles).
Wiggins listed the steeper Italian climbs and other challengers, namely Vincenzo Nibali, as his biggest obstacles toward winning.
"It wasn’t a sudden choice. After winning the Tour, which I had sought for many years, I asked myself, ‘Now what do I do?’ and I started thinking about the Giro," Wiggins said.
Wiggins has raced the Giro five times, including his grand tour debut in 2003 when he failed to finish. In 2010, he won the opening time trial in Amsterdam and wore the leader’s pink jersey for one stage, eventually finishing 40th for his best finish in the race.
"In terms of cycling history, the Giro is just as important as the Tour, but it has a more human aspect," Wiggins said. "The Tour has maybe gotten too big."
Wiggins won three Olympic titles and six medals in track cycling before focusing exclusively on the road. He said that he first began to believe in his climbing ability when he finished ahead of Lance Armstrong in the first big climb of the 2009 Giro at Alpi di Siusi.
But Wiggins wouldn’t analyze Armstrong’s doping confession last week.
"I’m not interested in what happens to Lance," Wiggins said. "My worry is in what state this scandal leaves cycling. Where have (UCI President) Pat McQuaid and all the others brought this sport? Certainly not in a great position, especially for the riders racing now. … Our credibility is on the line."
Wiggins said he will help Sky teammate Chris Froome at the Tour after they finished 1-2 last year.
"But I’m still hoping to race another Tour at a high level after the Giro, that’s the challenge — maybe another podium," he said. "Anyhow, it’s better for the team to have two cards to play than one."