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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 19:16 GMT
Wiggins aims for hometown victory
By Simon Austin

Bradley Wiggins
Last year Wiggins competed in his first Tour de France
British cyclist Bradley Wiggins hopes to fulfil a childhood dream by wearing the yellow jersey when the Tour de France comes to England this year.

The Olympic gold medallist is one of the favourites to win the Tour-opening prologue in central London on 7 July.

He told BBC Sport: "The only experience I've had that can compare to the prologue is being in the velodrome in the Olympic final.

"This will be like the Olympics coming to town every day."

Wiggins, who won gold in the 4km individual pursuit at the 2004 Olympics, took part in his first Tour de France last year.

He was tipped to shine in the prologue in Strasbourg, but finished a disappointing 16th.

Holding the yellow jersey would go down as perhaps my best achievement

Bradley Wiggins

Yet it was still a memorable experience for him, and he expects this year's prologue to be even better.

The 26-year-old said: "The last one was a whole new experience for me. The wall of sound you get, that every one of the 200 riders gets, is just inexplicable really.

"It gets to the point where you cannot even hear yourself breathing. And it's a wall of sound for the eight or nine minutes it takes.

"That was in Strasbourg, so imagine what it will be like in London, where I grew up. It will be magnified a hundred times.

"I'm trying to imagine now what it will be like waiting on the ramp to go down the course."

Wiggins says that winning the prologue would probably be the highlight of his career.

"It's one thing missing from my ambitions at the moment," he said.

"My main ambitions were to win Olympic gold and hold the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.

"It would go down as perhaps my best achievement. As a kid I used to ride round Hyde Park. I never imagined I'd be riding round the Serpentine in the Tour de France."

606 DEBATE: Will the Tour benefit from coming to London?

The Cofidis rider, who grew up in Maida Vale, thinks the London prologue course will suit his power and speed more than Strasbourg did.

"The course is much more suited to a rider like myself," he said.

"It has really wide roads and sweeping bends and gives you time to get into a rhythm. Last year there were a lot of bends."

Riders go past Portsmouth pier in 1994
Three million people lined the course when the Tour last came to Britain

Wiggins, who is currently training for the world track championships and the World Cup in Manchester, thinks there are "seven to 10" other riders who will be in contention for the prologue.

The "Grand Depart" of the Tour will be visiting London from 6 to 8 July.

There will be a ceremony on 6 July in Trafalgar Square to mark the start of the Tour, the prologue will start in Whitehall and finish on the Mall on 7 July, and stage one will start in central London and finish in Canterbury on 8 July.

London transport commissioner Peter Hendy said he hoped the visit of the Tour would provide a "huge boost" for cycling in the capital and boost the local economy by 100m.

Chris Boardman, Britain's most successful cyclist and winner of three Tour de France yellow jerseys, said: "Apart from Paris, London is the most amazing city to have the race.

He took part in the Tour when it last came to Britain, in 1994, and three million people lined the route.

"I didn't realise what that meant until I came across. It's fantastic we've got it back again and I'm looking forward to it.

"It can only be bigger this time because it's in the capital."



SEE ALSO
Wiggins dreaming of London glory
25 Jan 06 |  Cycling
Landis 'writes off 2007 season'
30 Jan 07 |  Cycling
Hushovd snatches Tour prologue
01 Jul 06 |  Cycling


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