The first British rider ever to win the Tour de Romandie, Bradley Wiggins (Sky ProCycling) has gained nine places overall in the WorldTour’s individual ranking, moving from 14th to fifth. The top four places, headed by Boonen and with Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) in second, remain un
For Wiggins,though, this latest breakthrough is his second major stage race victory of 2012, following his triumph in Paris-Nice this March. Yet again, it was a close-run thing, with the 31-year-old only clinching the victory - and regaining the lead - after his second stage win at the Tour of Romandie, in Sunday’s time trial. Wiggins stage victory was by a bare second over Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda), but overall he had a 12 second margin on the American, with Portugal’s Rui Costa (Movistar) in third. Wiggins paid tribute afterwards to Sky’s collective racing at the Tour de Romandie, insisting that it would not have been possible for him to win without his team-mates’ support. As Wiggins pointed out, having a World Champion like team-mate Mark Cavendish racing on the front for him to protect his overall position was both an honour and a sign of the team’s all-round strength. Wiggins strong performance, together with Geraint Thomas’ prologue victory, has given a big boost to their country in the nations ranking. In large part thanks to the Londoner and the Welshman, Great Britain has now bounced back into the top ten, and is currently lying eighth overall. Spain remain in the lead, followed by Italy and Belgium, but Australia - no doubt in large part due to Richie Porte and Michael Rogers (both Sky ProCycling) fourth and fifth places overall - have dislodged The Netherlands from fourth place. Sky’s superb collective performance - with three riders in the top five at Romandie - have also gained them a big boost in the teams’ ranking. The British squad is now in third overall, three places up on last week, and closing the gap on overall leaders Omega Pharma-Quick Step and runners-up Liquigas-Cannondale. The other big mover after Romandie is Movistar, who are back in the top ten in the ranking, in ninth spot - just one effect of Rui Costa’s third place overall.
Next up on the WorldTour calendar is cycling’s first Grand Tour of the season, the Giro d’Italia. Running from May 5th to 27th, as ever the Giro’s line-up includes some of cycling’s biggest stars, including top sprinter Mark Cavendish (Sky ProCycling), double former winner Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) and RadioShack-Nissan’s allround contender Frank Schleck. The WorldTour ranking - in all categories - will doubtless look very different indeed after the Giro’s final time trial in Milan in less than three weeks’ time
Image courtesy of Team Sky Pro Cycling