Wiggins looks to fight off attacks
Tour de France leader looks to cement race victory
Last Updated: July 19, 2012 10:38am
Bradley Wiggins: Still wears the yellow jersey
Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins is aiming to fight off attacks on his hold of the yellow jersey during Thursday's final mountain day.
Wiggins enters his 10th day in the maillot jaune, the 143.5-kilometre 17th stage from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes, with a lead of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) 18 seconds further adrift in third place.
No other rider is within five minutes of the triple Olympic champion.
Wiggins anticipates another challenging day in the saddle and opted out of post-stage media duties to focus on his recuperation.
"We've got a good scenario for the final day in the mountains but the process now starts - recovering, eating, drinking lots and getting ready right away," Wiggins said.
"On paper this stage doesn't look as hard as it was yesterday. It's certainly a lot shorter and there will be a lot of tired bodies out there. It's a case of people recovering and who recovers best at this stage.
"There will be a lot of tired bodies out there. It's a case of people recovering and who recovers best at this stage."
Bradley Wiggins Quotes of the week
"The one thing I keep saying is that no one has it easy out there.
"We're all in the same boat and we all have to do the same course and tomorrow (today) is another day."
Wiggins is not yet ready to be crowned champion, but his rivals appear to have conceded defeat.
The 32-year-old added: "I don't think that the others have eased up trying to beat me and started thinking of the other places on the podium. Not yet.
"We've created the ideal scenario by putting even more time into Cadel Evans and although we weren't able to get rid of Nibali, who is very strong, it was a great day."
Nibali attacked twice on the final climb, the Col du Peyresourde, on the 16th stage, won by Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), but Wiggins and Froome worked together to bridge the gap and the Italian appears resigned for settling for second best.
"Sky were too strong. I'm aiming for the podium," Nibali said. "It's getting too hard to open the door."
Nibali remains in contention, but defending champion Evans is out of it after losing 4:47 to Wiggins, Froome and Nibali and falling to seventh overall, 8:06 adrift.
"That's pretty much the Tour de France over for me," said Evans, who has suffered an upset stomach in recent days.