Former British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton believes Sir Bradley Wiggins has reached a crossroads in his career.
Defending Tour de France champion Wiggins withdrew from the Giro d’Italia and subsequently Team Sky’s line-up for this year’s French race, which begins in four weeks’ time on June 29, after a chest infection and a knee injury left him unable to train.
Australian Sutton, who stood down as head coach of Team Sky in January and now serves as a performance adviser to the squad, believes Wiggins will be hit hard by his withdrawal from the Tour.
“This is definitely a crisis point,” Sutton told The Observer.
“What will it do to him mentally? I don’t know.
“When you have a setback like this you need to take inspiration from others, so I’d cite (Australian cyclist) Cadel Evans, who had a rough year last year but has come back to get on the podium of the Giro at 36.
“Brad needs to set some goals as soon as possible, something to get him back on his bike. The best would probably be the Vuelta (the tour of Spain, which starts on August 24) as preparation for the world championship individual time trial, which is a goal that has eluded him until now.
“It is a massive setback for him. You can say whatever you want about the Giro, but as the Tour grew nearer he wanted to try for the double.”
Sutton feels the Londoner needs a new experience to refresh his outlook and ambition in the wake of an intense and unrelenting, albeit incredibly successful, training campaign through 2012.
“He needs to improvise, find some diversity, do different things to get the same result,” Sutton added.
“It’s like a sponge washing a car - he’s been wrung dry.”