Geraint Thomas: Sir Bradley Wiggins can win Giro/Tour double
Britain's Olympic track champion and Team Sky cyclist Geraint Thomas assesses Sir Bradley Wiggins's chances of winning the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in his latest column for BBC Sport.
To do what Sir Bradley Wiggins is attempting this summer and win the double of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in the same season is pretty much as tough as it gets for a professional cyclist.
I think Brad can do it but winning the two biggest and hardest Grand Tours, each lasting 23 days and covering a combined distance of 6,765km, in the space of three months will be hugely demanding, mentally and physically.
I know from experience that it is hard enough just riding one of those races, let alone trying to win them both.
The psychological side of things comes with dealing with the pressure and stress of staying sharp at the top end of the General Classification, and reading the race, the road and your rivals, not once but twice.
In the Giro, which starts on Saturday, there are plenty of days which are a lot more unpredictable than the Tour. They will not just be about an all-out charge to the top of a mountain so Brad will have to race with his head.
All he will be thinking about when he is racing the Giro is the Giro. He has to concentrate on that and he knows he has to be at his best for the final week of that race, when there is a lot of climbing.
Then, whatever happens there, he has 33 days between the end of the Giro and the start of the Tour on 29 June.
Physically, his rest and recovery time then will be crucial. But he cannot just switch off as he would do normally - he will need to keep himself in top condition and remain on the ball.
A DIFFERENT CHALLENGE
Usually in a season you try to peak for one of these three-week stage races.
In 2012, Brad's race was the Tour and, when he followed that by going for gold in the time trial at the London Olympics, it was only nine days after he had won in Paris. All he had to do then was rest and stay active.
Giro/Tour double club
- Fausto Coppi (Ita) - 1949, 52
- Jacques Anquetil (Fra) - 1964
- Eddy Merckx (Bel) - 1970, 72, 74
- Bernard Hinault (Fra) - 1982, 85
- Stephen Roche (Ire) - 1987
- Miguel Indurain (Spa) - 1992, 93
- Marco Pantani (Ita) - 1998
This time is different. Instead of one three-week race, he is starting a huge three-month project.
Weight is not an issue Brad generally has to worry about but he will still have to stay on top of that because his body will not be used to going from one intense effort straight into another, and it will be crucial he gets the balance right.
When you finish a Grand Tour, you are always tired, no matter how good you are.
Look at Chris Froome in the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) last year, which came a couple of weeks after the Tour and the Olympics. For the first 10 days or so he was going really well but by the end he was on his knees and it became a case of him just trying to get to the finish rather than winning.
That is the thing with cycling - everything you do catches up with you in the end. I am sure Brad has moments where he thinks going for both is a big ask but I know for sure he will also be excited about it.
There are a lot more unknowns for Brad this time, particularly in the Giro, but what will help him in Italy is the team he has behind him. On the tough days, they will know what to do.
Brad needs to make the most of the time trials and look to go into the final week of the Giro with a bit of an advantage. It is a lot easier trying to defend a minute or so than it is trying to get that back, and the team certainly knows how to defend a lead.
A SUPPORTING ROLE
I will hopefully be in the Team Sky team with Brad and Chris for the Tour but I will be watching the Giro on TV, well most of it anyhow.
I fly out to Tenerife on Monday to start my next block of training, which for me is when things really start gearing up towards the Tour.
We will be able to see the final bits of each Giro stage every day but I will miss all the excitement of the last week because I am riding the five-day Bayern Rundfarht (the Tour of Bavaria) at the end of May.
Geraint's season so far
The 26-year-old started 2013 with a stage win on the Tour Down Under, eventually finishing third overall.
He had a tougher time in the sprint classics, crashing out of contention in the prestigious Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix races.
Then it is the Criterium du Dauphine at the start of June. Around then I should find out whether I am in the team for the Tour.
I am feeling refreshed and good to go - I have had a nice break since the Spring Classics where I have had a bit of time at home with my girlfriend and just did some normal things like going out to the cinema and out for some food.
It might not sound very exciting but it is the sort of thing you don't get to do when you are training abroad or in a race.
You need that time away from the camp to recharge the batteries and also get a change of scene. For example, it has been nice not to have to look at my team-mate Ian Stannard across the dinner table every day this week!
But before I join back up with Team Sky, I have got another important supporting role to carry out this weekend.
An old schoolfriend of mine is getting married and I am best man. To be honest I am feeling the pressure of that role more than I ever do when I am on my bike!