It’s a different program for 2013, but the same old Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome en route to winning the Tour of Oman. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.comMUSCAT, Oman (VN) — Bradley Wiggins (Sky) was a bit of an unknown this time last year, a Tour de France contender but not an outright favorite. The situation has changed now with the Tour win and Olympic success, not to mention his new title.

“Hello, Brad,” VeloNews greeted him. “Good to see you,” he replied. After a second passed, he turned around and said, “It’s Sir Brad.”

That is Wiggo, serious and playful.

At home in England, he has become a household name and a star. Queen Elizabeth II even knighted Wiggins to celebrate his achievements after he became the first Brit to win the Tour and, as if sprinkling magic dust on gold, won the Olympic time trial in London 10 days later.

“It’s not really how crazy your life is because you can control it. I control it by not doing a lot of stuff: I didn’t go on TV, do talk shows, game shows and all that stuff. You can control how much of a celebrity you become,” Wiggins said in a press chat Friday.

Still, training at home has become difficult now.

“People stop me for photographs, but I say: ‘I’m at fucking work! Where do you work? Let me come to where you work, turn the machine off for five minutes and take a photograph…’” Wiggins said.

“I actually pretend to ignore them, pretend I’m French. …”

Wiggins is working towards the Giro d’Italia. After becoming the first Brit to win the Tour, he reloaded with the idea of doing likewise at the Italian grand tour.

With that in mind, he will travel to altitude camp in Tenerife, spending a couple of weeks on the Spanish island off Africa’s west coast before racing the Volta ao Catalunya March 18-24.

The camp and helping teammate Chris Froome win the Tour of Oman are part of the “bigger picture” for the Giro.

“It was a bit of the unknown coming into [Oman] to be honest,” Wiggins said. “I did Mallorca last week, came home Wednesday night, left for Oman Friday — I probably did a bit too much in Mallorca, but I stuck with the plan. I was quite tired when I got here, especially on the first day, and it has not really got any better.

“In terms of the bigger picture, when we planned to do this back in December, it’s about where we expected it, coming in with fatigue.”

Wiggins finished the race 74th overall, 22 minutes back from Froome. Last February, he placed second and won the time trial in the Volta ao Algarve.

“I’ve committed to a completely different program this year, whereas last year it was about gaining confidence through the year that I could actually win the Tour de France,” Wiggins said. “Now, it’s much more looking at the bigger picture, which is the Giro for me, and working back from that.”