The Tour is my Wembley, says Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins has never won the Tour de France but he is in a unique place for a Briton - being the favourite to finish first in cycling's top event in three weeks' time in Paris.
“"To be in this position is what I've been dreaming of all my life. I guess most little kids in England dream of, I don't know, lifting the FA Cup. This is my Wembley," he told reporters at his hotel in Verbiers, around 40-km from Saturday's Tour start in Liege.
The 99th edition kicks off with a 6.4-km prologue where Wiggins will be one of the favourites but the Briton has longer term plans.
"I'm really looking forward to putting into practice what I have done in training," he said on Friday.
The Team Sky leader has won three of the major stage races on the 2012 calendar - Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine - but said it had just been a long preparation for his goal to become the first Briton to win the sport's showcase event.
"“Everything I did this year was leading up to this point. I happened to win three of the major stage races in cycling along the way but this is what it was all about," said the Olympic pursuit champion.
"“I was not so comfortable in Romandie. It might sound ridiculous because I won it but it's true. Winning the Dauphine time trial was a relief because I was finally in the kind of form I was looking for."
Just hours from the start of potentially the most important three weeks of his career, he said: “"I'm in the form of my life".
Wiggins added he did not feel extra pressure from being the talk of the Tour.
"“Psychologically I'm prepared for it from my Olympic experience," said the 31-year-old who successfully defended his 2004 Athens Games pursuit titles in Beijing four years ago.
Wiggins said his preparations on the road had been much the same as on the track.
“"The fundamentals are the same," he explained. "In the mountains you're looking for the ideal balance between weight and power.
"“You can only control what you can control. You should not try to control the rest."
One of the hardest things to control is hard luck. Last year Wiggins was forced out of the Tour when he crashed in the seventh stage to Chateauroux as the jittery peloton rode at a furious pace to try and gain the best positions.
“"I don't expect it to be any different this year," he said Wiggins about the usual nervousness in the early stages of the Tour.
The difference is that he is now surrounded by arguably the strongest team in the pack.