Rich pickings … Richie Porte may have locked in a Tour de France place and a possible spot for the Olympics. Photo: AFP
BRADLEY WIGGINS and Britain's Team Sky are on an ideal trajectory for a tilt at overall victory in this year's Tour de France.
The Briton's overall win in the Tour of Romandy in Switzerland and the manner in which he secured it in Sunday's time trial at Crans-Montana - especially his calmness after an early mechanical problem - shows all the hallmarks of a rider ready to give the Tour his best shot.
''It was a true test of a GC [general classification] rider. It had a bit of everything,'' Wiggins said afterwards. Of the mechanical problem, he said: ''I'm pleased with how I handled it. A few years ago, I might have chucked my toys out of the pram and thrown my bike down a ravine.''
Just as important was the strength of his teammates, who rode for him throughout the week, then finished the five-stage race strongly.
Two of them, the Australians Richie Porte and Michael Rogers, finished in the top 10 of the 16.5 kilometre time trial won by Wiggins in 28 minutes, 56.60 seconds by a meagre 0.7s from the American rider Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda).
The third-place finish by Porte (at 16.59s to Wiggins) and seventh by Rogers (at 42.88s) should not only lock in their berths for a place in Sky's nine-man Tour team, but also do wonders for their Olympic selection hopes, with Australia having qualified for two places for the time-trial event.
It is a selection issue that will also put pressure on Cadel Evans to perform before Cycling Australia's June 17 deadline for performances to be considered, now that he has recovered from a sinus infection.
Evans, when he is in top form, is one of the strongest cyclists in the world in a time trial at the end of the Tour. If he is in that form this year, the chances are he will be able to hold it for the Olympic time trial too.
For Wiggins there is also the question of what his rivals will bring to the Tour, especially the defending champion, Evans. It has been a problematic start to the season for Evans and BMC. Until the Italian rider Alessandro Ballan won the Giro della Toscana in Italy on Sunday, the team's only European wins were Evans's time trial and overall victory in the Criterium International, and BMC's win in the team time trial of the Giro del Trentino.
While Evans was unable to repeat last year's Romany victory, he finished believing he was the stronger for it. Despite a poor result in the 3.3km prologue time trial (80th at 19.75s to Geraint Thomas of Sky), he was eighth and in the lead group in Saturday's mountain stage. ''I'm healthy again, and with a good training period ahead of me, I've the time I need to do the necessary work to get to where I need,'' he wrote on his website.