Brad Wiggins is getting used to the colour yellow – he now leads the Criterium du Dauphine after an impressive performance in the stage 4 time trial (AFP/Getty Images)

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Bradley Wiggins (Sky) has paid tribute to his new training philosophy after he took a firm grip of the overall standings at the Critérium du Dauphiné with a convincing victory in the stage 4 time trial to Bourg-en-Bresse.

The Dauphiné is only the fifth race Wiggins
has started in 2012 as he builds for the Tour de France under the
stewardship of Tim Kerrison, his Australian coach, with a training
programme that has aroused considerable interest. Kerrison’s background
is in swimming, and the structure he has devised for Wiggins bears many
of the hallmarks of his former discipline, in particular his
recommendation that the rider dispense with the idea of using races as

“My coach has not been in cycling for long, he’s come from swimming,
so I’ve pretty much been training like the swimmers train,” Wiggins told
reporters in Bourg-en-Bresse. “I’ve been constantly training through
the year, so it’s not like the traditional way for cycling, which is
starting in January fat or in really bad condition, and then building,
building and showing form in these races.”

Wiggins began his racing campaign with 3rd overall at the Volta ao Algarve in February, then won Paris-Nice
in March. After abandoning, the Volta a Catalunya, Wiggins won the Tour
de Romandie in early May and now holds a commanding lead at the
Dauphiné. In between, his regimen has included some lengthy stints of
training at altitude in the seclusion of Mount Teide, Tenerife.

“It’s just trying to be 95, 97% all year and constantly working,”
Wiggins said. “The only downside is that it’s mentally difficult, but up
to now I’ve found it pretty good. I’ve only raced four races this year
and I’ve had long periods between races to freshen up and do good blocks
of training, so I’m not going from race to race.”

Wiggins wryly recalled how his victorious ride at Paris-Nice in March
had seen many wonder if he had reached his best condition too soon.
Stretching his gaunt legs as he spoke, Wiggins reiterated that his
entire campaign is centred on the Tour de France.

“I’ve kept spouting on about this since Paris-Nice and it becomes old
hat after a while, but we’re training for July,” he said. “We’ve always
been training for July. When we won Paris-Nice, I was asked had I
peaked too soon and I said, ‘no, we’re training for July.’ We get to
Romandie and I’m asked if I’ve peaked too soon, and I said ‘no, we’re
training for July…’”

Wiggins has sprinkled his preparation for July with an approach to
racing that seems to have been lifted straight from the “you might as
well win” school of thought. His emphatic win in Bourg-en-Bresse means
that he is in pole position to add overall victory at the Dauphiné to an
already impressive 2012 haul.

Beating Tony Martin and Cadel Evans

Wiggins v Evans

More immediately, Wiggins noted that his primary motivation on
Thursday was to beat world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega
Pharma-QuickStep), and he duly obliged by putting 34 seconds into the

“I’ve not beaten Tony too many times in the past. I beat him in
Algarve this year but that was by milliseconds,” he said. “But to beat
him by a clear margin this time is a huge satisfaction really. We’d been
chasing Tony for a long time. He won by a significant margin at the
world championships last year and that was the start point for us – to
try and get closer to him.”

In the longer term, however, Wiggins’ sights are clearly fixed on
succeeding Cadel Evans (BMC) as Tour de France champion. At one point,
he even seemed on course to catch and pass Evans, but although the
Australian managed to hold him off, Wiggins’ margin of 1:43 was surely
still a significant psychological blow ahead of the Tour’s final time
trial at Chartres.

“It’s the Daupiné, we’re still six weeks now from the last time trial
of the Tour. That’s a long time,” Wiggins protested. “For Cadel, I
think there was a similar margin in the Grenoble time trial last year,
but by the time the last time trial of the Tour came around, I don’t
think I would have been sure to beat Cadel that day.

“A lot changes in time trials with conditions and you can’t hide when it you’re having a bad day.”

Or, it seems, when you’re having a good year.

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