Wiggins ready to reap training rewards in Tour
British cyclist Bradley Wiggins feels in the best shape of his life as he prepares to defend his Criterium du Dauphine crown, before tackling the Tour de France.
Wiggins won last year's Criterium as part of a hot run of form which also included victories in the Paris-Nice and the Tour of Romandy, and his displays are down to a training camp on Mount Teide on Tenerife.
The 32-year-old has had to deal with doubters and critics questioning the transformation, but Wiggins is unconcerned and has revealed just how intense his routine is.
"It's disappointing if anybody doubts me. That's what happens when you start winning in this sport," he told the Daily Telegraph. "Traditionally, it is difficult for some people to get their heads around such consistency and progression. According to them, nobody just knocks off the Dauphiné, Paris-Nice, Romandy like that these days - especially not a thin streak from Kilburn who lives in Lancashire and used to ride track.
"It's so much easier for critics to start casting doubt rather than to appreciate what we are doing here and how everybody at Sky is working like dogs in a very focused way, especially up here on Teide. They don't see how the modern sport is developing. They don't want to see. People will think what they will think but I'm not the slightest bit bothered."
He continued: "From April 1 this year to the day I line up for the Tour de France prologue on June 30, I will have done exactly 100,000 metres of high-quality climbing, either in training or racing. If I had trained this hard when I was riding track at the Olympics, God only knows what I might have done. I used to think I worked hard but this is a different level.
"We started coming here last May and there was an immediate surge in my form. I won the time-trial at Bayern-Rundfhart and then took the Dauphine, by far the biggest road win of my life. Something good was beginning to happen. It's not just the altitude and the heat - although that's a big part of it - but it's what we actually do, the volume and quality of work."
Looking ahead to next month's Tour, in which he finished fourth in 2009, Wiggins explained how the change in his training regime has lifted his confidence.
"I'm not nervous about the Tour anymore, just excited. I've learned to be a team leader, which I struggled with initially," he said. "Being the focus of a big team and the individual so many amazing riders are working their butts off for is not easy. Personally, I could only be comfortable with that role once I had been able to prove to them with big race results, and setting the tone in training, that I am worthy of their support. I have done that now and I am confident in my fitness.
"I know the work that I have done and what I am capable of. Given a normal slice of good luck, I can get the reward I deserve."