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Page last updated at 08:23 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 09:23 UK

Sky's Bradley Wiggins targets Giro d'Italia first week

By Alex Murray

Bradley Wiggins at Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Wiggins gets his first major test since joining Team Sky

Bradley Wiggins will aim to win Saturday's opening stage of the Giro d'Italia and challenge in the first 10 days, says team-mate Michael Barry.

But the Team Sky leader is not expected to win overall, as his sights are set on the Tour de France in July.

"It's difficult for Bradley to go into the Giro and the Tour and say 'I want to win both'," said Canadian Barry.

"He's going in there to win the prologue and the team will support him through those first 10 days or so."

Double Olympic track champion Wiggins will find himself in the spotlight during the three-week race, as undisputed leader of a top team for the first time since his breakthrough performance at last year's Tour de France, when he finished fourth overall.

Sky's nine-man squad includes Barry, whose experience makes him one of the most valued support riders in the peloton, and British pair Steve Cummings and Chris Froome.

I believe he'll do a fantastic performance in the Giro and surprise a lot of people

Barry on Bradley Wiggins

Team principal David Brailsford has targeted the leader's pink jersey in the opening week with Wiggins a favourite for the opening time trial in Amsterdam.

"I believe he'll do a fantastic performance in the Giro and surprise a lot of people," Barry said of Wiggins.

"I don't think he's going there hoping to win, he's going there hoping to perform really well and get the most out of it."

Barry believes it is not realistic to expect to challenge for victory in the Giro and the Tour in the same year. The last man to win both was Italian Marco Pantani in 1998.

"Very, very few riders in the history of cycling have done that, so the team has set realistic targets and I think we'll be able to achieve those," Barry continued.

"I know Brad's fitness is really good, but the Giro wasn't an objective when he started the season. He hopes to win stages and perform well in the race."

Last year's winner Denis Menchov will miss the race in order to focus on France but a strong Giro field features world champion Cadel Evans, leader of the new BMC team.

Barry believes the race could go right down the the final stage, a time trial in Verona on 30 May.

Tina Sparkle

"With the form Cadel's had the last few weeks, he seems to be on a really good level. The question around Cadel is whether his team will be able to support him," he said.

"But they're always big surprises at the Giro and sure there'll be a few Italians who will come out flying. "

"The last week will decide the race, so it could be a rider who's not flying right now could end up winning the race as they get better through the race."

Barry has ridden in a winning Tour de France team for Lance Armstrong and last season was part of the HTC-Columbia team that delivered three stage wins for Mark Cavendish at the Giro.

He has written for the New York Times and has just published a book, Le Metier, giving gives a personal insight into the lifestyle and mentality of a successful rider in the top flight.

He sees in Wiggins a different type of leader to Armstrong.

"Lance is maybe more vocal and almost harder on the riders than Brad is. But I haven't raced in a Grand Tour with Brad yet so maybe that will change," he said.

"Last year he was getting his legs in the mountains and learning to climb, now he's with the best in the world."

"Now he's been up front in a Grand Tour and knows what it takes to be a contender that's very different from where he was last year. With that comes more confidence. And the team also has a great deal more confidence in him."

Meanwhile, Cavendish and Armstrong have opted to miss the Giro and will instead ride at the Tour of California.

He is hard on himself; external pressure doesn't win bike races, you have to have an internal fire

Barry on former teammate Mark Cavendish

Cavendish last year became the first Brit to wear the Giro leader's jersey and went on to win six stages of the Tour de France.

But he has endured a difficult winter and early season, with his form hit by dental problems and flu, and was withdrawn from last week's Tour de Romandie for making an obscene gesture following a stage victory.

"He is hard on himself. External pressure doesn't win bike races, you have to have an internal fire, especially to win on the level he does," Barry said of Cavendish.

"He drives himself very hard and is always criticising himself and re-analysing videotapes of himself. Lance is similar, all the best guys do that, they're always trying to improve and become better."

"Some riders struggle and become depressed when they're not racing and they can't train. I think every cyclist on some level struggles with being off the bike. "

Italians Dario Cioni and Morris Possoni, New Zealander Greg Henderson and Australian duo Mathew Hayman and Chris Sutton complete the Team Sky line-up.

And there are four more Brits in other teams - veteran Scot David Millar for Team Garmin-Transitions, Dan Lloyd with Cervelo Test Team and Omega Pharma-Lotto team-mates Adam Blythe and Charlie Wegelius.

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see also
Wiggins to lead Team Sky at Giro
29 Apr 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish withdrawn after V-sign
30 Apr 10 |  Cycling
Illness hits Armstrong Tour plans
07 Apr 10 |  Cycling
On the road with Team Sky
18 Mar 10 |  Cycling
Australian Evans joins BMC Racing
02 Nov 09 |  Cycling

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