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Bradley Wiggins leaves Tour de France rivals in a spin
There was a point, halfway up an Alpine mountain, when the camera zoomed in on a cyclist going the same plodding pace as me.
All right, that might be stretching it a bit.
Anyone who has seen my Bambi-type attempts on two wheels could argue I would struggle to make the end of the street in one piece. And they would not be far wrong.
But then I always maintain that bikes weren’t designed for those well over six foot with, how shall we put this, a comfortable girth.
Neither description could be levelled at Peter Sagan, the current wearer of the Tour de France green jersey as the race’s best sprinter.
The Slovakian 22-year-old is having a brilliant first Tour with three stage wins already on his CV, victories memorable for the cockiness of the celebration as he sauntered over the finish line.
But on this particular afternoon he was suffering. Big style.
Trying to pace his team leader into launching an attack, Sagan suddenly hit the wall. One minute he was surging up the slope; the next it was as if he’d found a reverse gear.
Back he dropped from his fellow breakaway rider, swiftly bypassing the chasing group the wrong way before effectively disappearing off the map for the rest of the stage.
He eventually crawled in with the bunch of sprinters, including Mark Cavendish, who limp their way round the climbing days with the sole intention of finishing inside the cut-off point. It’s something they normally do with no more than two or three minutes to spare.
But it was those close-up TV images capturing that precise moment when Sagan cracked that summed up the sheer torture of Le Tour.
Whatever people feel about pro cycling – and it’s always been a bit of a Marmite sport – there is no denying the obscene physical demands that are placed on the human body for three solid weeks.
That is why Bradley Wiggins deserves the spotlight for the incredible achievement of leading this race.
He is no gallant loser like Andy Murray; Wiggins appears unbreakable as he rides closer and closer to a place in British sporting immortality.
Crashes apart, his chances of becoming our first winner of the maillot jaune look as solid as those sideburns that sprout from under his racing helmet.
He is supported by a team par excellence. Sky have built their resources around dominating the Tour and every penny has been well spent.
Chris Froome, his ablest of lieutenants, would be a genuine contender to win the thing himself if his job was not simply to protect Wiggins.
Cavendish has almost been reduced to a bit-part role, left to forage for his own sprints, as Sky commit every last pedal to the triumph in yellow.
Other lead riders must be green with envy at the power at Wiggins’ disposal. There is no weak link. But Wiggins still has to get it done himself – something he did with astonishing ease to crush the opposition in the opening time trial and win his first stage.
For all the team work and complex tactics that will pass the casual viewer by, this race is ultimately down to the fitness and sheer will of the individual.
In some cases, as we’ve seen this week, it becomes a battle between man and mountain and there’s no guarantee who wins.
Allez Wiggo, our real Tour de Force.