Tour de France: Wiggins would have been top three, Brailsford claims
TOUR DE FRANCE 2011
- Dates: Saturday 2 July - Sunday 24 July
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Coverage: Listen live to every stage finish on the BBC Sport website (UK only); live text commentary on key stages; updates on BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra
Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford has said Bradley Wiggins would have secured a Tour de France podium finish had he not been forced to retire through injury.
Wiggins, 31, was sixth overall going into the seventh stage but suffered a crash in which he broke his collarbone.
"We had a lot of numbers on Bradley and could measure what the riders were doing on the hills," Brailsford told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek.
"He'd definitely have got on the podium in Paris in my book."
Brailsford, who added that Wiggins was back riding having undergone successful surgery, continued: "There's no doubt about it, he'd have been right up there."
Despite the obvious disappointment of losing his team leader, Brailsford praised the way the team had reacted.
"They have been fantastic," he said.
"We decided to get on the front foot and go for stage wins and be aggressive. Geraint Thomas [who was in the leading group going over the Tourmalet in stage 12] has led the way and Edvald Boasson Hagen has won a stage for us."
“There have been more crashes this year but it's part of the sport and it's down to riders to ride carefully and look after one another”
Brailsford also insisted that this year's Tour had not been overly dangerous despite a spate of high-profile crashes.
"It goes with the territory," he said.
"It's a risky sport but this year a lot of the riders crashing have been high-profile riders.
"I think statistically there have been more crashes this year but it's part of the sport and it's down to riders to ride carefully and look after one another.
"On the first day when Alberto Contador crashed everyone else thought 'that could be me'. It created a nervousness in the peloton which led to teams taking leaders to the front which then created more crashes and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
"What's unacceptable is the crash where Juan Antonio Flecha was hit by a car."
Flecha was able to continue, but Sky are considering legal action, Brailsford confirming that "all actions remain on the table".