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Wiggins gears up for Tour de France glory

PUBLISHED: 14:52 15 June 2007 | UPDATED: 14:34 07 September 2010

Bradley Wiggins staked his claim for a starting place in the Tour de France with victory in the 4.2km prologue of the Dauphine Libere race over the weekend. The Maida Vale cyclist and Olympic gold medallist hopes to ride for Cofidis in the

By Jonny Weeks

Bradley Wiggins staked his claim for a starting place in the Tour de France with victory in the 4.2km prologue of the Dauphine Libere race over the weekend.

The Maida Vale cyclist and Olympic gold medallist hopes to ride for Cofidis in the Tour which, for the first time, starts in London on July 7.

Sunday's win in Grenoble was the second time-trial triumph for the 27-year-old professional.

He beat American Levi Leipheimer by one second to claim the leader's jersey for the opening stage of the Dauphine Libere race.

And on Monday Wiggins retained the jersey by finishing 22nd in stage one, the 219km trip from Grenoble to Roanne. But he slipped to third, 23 seconds behind stage winner and leader Christophe Moreau on Tuesday.

"Before this year, I couldn't say I was a favourite for London, I hadn't got the results on the road for that," he said. "But now I am one of the favourites.

"I can be confident of at least making the top five or perhaps even the top three. If I thought I was just going to do an average ride in London, then I'd prefer not to race and go on holiday.

"But I think maybe I'm in the best form of my life and after this win I can go into the Tour feeling more relaxed. Cofidis have been good, not putting too much pressure on me and letting me train for these events as I want. This is the result."

Wiggins completed Sunday's event in four minutes 50 seconds after earlier riders had been hampered by a storm. The eight-day contest finishes on Sunday.

Wiggins, who won the opening stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk race last month, is best known for claiming pursuit gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

He entered last year's Tour de France and said the mountain climbs were utterly demoralising.

"One day you could be on cloud nine and then the next on cloud zero in the mountains," he said. "There were stages last year when we would have to get over four or five huge 'cols' in a day and I would be going backwards after the first one. It's a horrible feeling because you know you have four more to go."

The first stage of next month's Tour de France is an 8km sprint around Hyde Park - the place where Wiggins used to cycle as a child.

jonny.weeks@hamhigh.co.uk

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