Bradley Wiggins ends barren run by winning home event
SIR BRADLEY WIGGINS expressed relief after ending his barren streak by winning the Tour of Britain.
The 2012 Tour de France and Olympic time-trial champion took a permanent hold on the leader's gold jersey as the first Team Sky rider to win its home tour as fellow Briton Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the concluding stage on Whitehall.
Wiggins then immediately turned his attentions to Wednesday's Road World Championships time-trial in Italy.
"The feeling at the moment is more just relief than anything else," said Wiggins, after his first stage-race triumph since the 2012 Tour de France.
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"I said I wanted to win it. It is pressure for the whole week.
"Until you cross the line you just don't know. It's all right to think it's a bit of a ceremony round London, but it certainly isn't. You cross the line, you're pumped up.
"It's relief that you've finished and fulfilled it for your team and your team-mates. But from tomorrow morning my thoughts turn to the World Championships and this will probably be forgotten. It's a bit like the Tour with the Olympics. Win the Tour one day, the next day you're thinking about the Olympics."
Wiggins, who took the race lead with victory in Tuesday's time-trial at Knowsley Safari Park and defended it with his Team Sky squad until the end, was nervous until the conclusion in central London.
He feared a crash and a split in the peloton on the last of the ten 8.8 kilometre laps which would have granted Switzerland's Martin Elmiger a chance to steal the title.
In the end, IAM Cycling's Elmiger had to be content with second, 26 seconds behind, while Simon Yates of the Great Britain Under-23 team finished third overall, after winning Friday's stage in Devon.
Wiggins praised the crowd support throughout the eight-day event, which began in Peebles last weekend, describing it as "overwhelming at times" as he bounced back from a year which saw him withdraw from the Giro d'Italia and miss the defence of his Tour de France title.
"There was an element of going through the motions in all the races early in the season," added Wiggins, the second British winner in the tenth edition of the race after Plymouth's Jonathan Tiernan-Locke 12 months ago.
"I came out this week with the commitment that I showed last year. I crashed on day two, was straight up and straight back in the bunch, unfazed by it. That was a sign that I was back to where I was last year, more than fitness levels and what numbers say.
"It's nice to be able to come to perform to your potential and please everybody. Everyone goes home happy."
Cavendish triumphed after a near-perfect lead-out from Omega Pharma-Quick Step team-mate Alessandro Petacchi for his third win of the 2013 race and a record tenth in all.
Cavendish, who won the concluding stage of the Tour of Britain for a third successive year, said: "It has been incredible, to be able to win the stage again in London."
Truro's Chris Opie enjoyed a successful last two days of the event.
The sprinter placed fifth on yesterday's stage and seventh on Saturday's finish in Guildford, helped on both occasions by his Team UK Youth colleague Yanto Barker, who grew up in south Devon.
Overall, Barker finished 37th and Opie 82nd.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Specialized-Lululemon successfully defended their team time-trial titles on the opening day of the Road World Championships in Italy.
The OPQS team of Tony Martin, Sylvain Chavanel, Michal Kwiatkowski, Niki Terpstra, Kristof van de Walle and Peter Velits won the men's team time-trial in one hour four minutes 16.81 seconds, just 0.81sec ahead of Orica-Green Edge after 56.8 kilometres of racing.
Team Sky, including Tour de France champion Chris Froome and fellow Briton Geraint Thomas, were third, 22.55sec behind.
Britain's Katie Colclough was part of the Specialized-Lululemon squad which successfully defended its women's team time-trial title.
The British Wiggle Honda squad, which is backed by Sir Bradley Wiggins and includes Olympic team pursuit champions Dani King and Joanna Rowsell, was sixth.