Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France champion, entered this year’s Giro d’Italia as one of the favorites for the overall title. But after crashing and losing time on a wet descent into Pescara a week ago, and then losing more time on wet descents in Florence and Naples, the British road cyclist (along with defending champion Ryder Hesjedal) pulled out of the 2013 Giro today, packing his bags and perhaps setting his sights on July’s Tour de France and battling teammate Chris Froome again for team leadership.
Although Wiggins recently suffered from a chest infection which hampered his ability to gain back time after his crash and slow descents, he just might be lamenting not spending more time working on his bike handling skills in nasty weather through more cyclocross practice.
Years ago, Wiggins gave cyclocross a try, as captured in the video below. Martial Gayant, a former French National Champion in cyclocross, explains the benefits of cyclocross as his Française des Jeux teammates practice cyclocross behind him. His words are also an uncanny prediction of the skills needed in this year’s wet Giro.
“And you also learn to ride when it’s cold.”
“Sometimes you have to train when it’s raining…”
“You never know what the weather will be.”
“Cyclocross brings many advantages.”[youtube Pt5h-rnsF6I 590 430]
Back in 2002, Wiggins was predominantly a track cyclist and was giving cyclocross a try, following teammates in an approach to a dismount. Wiggins struggled to unclip and crashed right behind Gayant.
“This is a track cyclist,” Gayant says, unphased. “He has everything to learn. C’mon Brad. Don’t give up!”
Wiggins has accomplished more than any professional could ever hope to in his career to date, but Gayant’s words may still be considered appropriate 11 years later.
Don’t give up Brad. Give cyclocross another a try.