Bradley Wiggins’s outstanding summer drew to an anticlimactic close when he was forced to withdraw from the Tour of Britain. The Tour De France champion and Olympic gold medallist was suffering from a stomach bug. Wiggins had been off the lead, lying in 41st position when the bug struck, so was probably unlikely to add the Tour to his list of 2012 triumphs.
He was showing the stress on a tough stage through the Potteries, when his Team Sky colleague and current world champion Mark Cavendish also struggled. Wiggins chose to wait for Cavendish, in order to help his challenge, but they were too far adrift of the leaders.
"Brad was in between the two groups waiting for Cav," Team Sky’s Servais Knaven explained, "and the gap looked shorter than it was. Brad wanted to help us defend the jersey today and did everything he could to help Cav. We hoped for a bit more today but it's been a hard race up to this point and a hard season."
Cavendish, as he had expected, relinquished his overall lead, with Australian Leigh Howard taking over. Team Sky’s dominance of the Tour De France has not been matched in Britain. Approaching the weekend they have only one rider still in with a chance of winning the overall classification. The German Christian Knees is a versatile and consistent rider who has the range of skills required to do well on the British stages.
Wiggins will be recuperating at home, not too unhappily, considering what he has already achieved this year.