Defending champion Bradley Wiggins won't ride in this year's Tour de France due to a knee injury. The announcement, which came late last week from Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford, wasn't a surprise to close followers of the sport.
Following his withdrawal from the Giro d'Italia (on May 17) with a chest cold and a nagging knee injury, Wiggins was unable to train hard, leaving him in no shape to compete in this month's Criterium du Dauphine (currently underway) or Tour of Switzerland (which kicks off June 8). Still, some were hoping for a dramatic turnaround in time to pick up his training.
"I desperately wanted to be there, for the team and for all the fans along the way—but it's not going to happen," Wiggins told the AFP. "I can't train the way I need to train and I'm not going to be ready. Once you accept that, it's almost a relief not having to worry about the injury and the race against time."
This is a huge disappointment for the British cyclist, whose 2012 season also included an Olympic gold medal in the time trial. While Wiggins was scheduled to ride the 100th edition of the Tour de France—considered by many the premiere race in pro cycling—in support of South African teammate Chris Froome, he started the season with bullish predictions of winning the Giro and defending his Tour title.
During the 2012 Tour de France, Wiggins and Froome were an unassailable duo, powering to top finishes in the time trials and fending off attacks in the mountains. No matter who was leading Team Sky in this year's race, it was assumed that, together, they'd be a force to be reckoned with. This development is sure to shake up the race, and creates an exciting new challenge for armchair odds-makers everywhere.
The 2013 Tour de France starts in Corsica on June 29, and spans 3,360 miles (2,087 miles) over 21 stages, wrapping in Paris on July 21.