Sir Bradley Wiggins has not given up on his Giro d’Italia dream despite a disappointing first week.
Wiggins sat fourth in the overall standings, 76 seconds adrift of overall leader Vincenzo Nibali after the first week of racing.
The reigning Tour de France champion has suffered a fall and a puncture in recent days which have interrupted his hopes of keeping local favourite Nibali in check.
However, with 12 stages of the race, which finishes in Brescia on May 26, remaining, Wiggins remains optimistic.
“Physically everything is great. It’s better than it’s ever been,” he told teamsky.com.
“Hopefully now on the longer summit finishes I can put that into action - where it’s just down to the physical stuff rather than these tricky finishes like where we had the crash a couple of days ago.
“We’re fourth and just over a minute off the lead with two weeks left of racing - perhaps the hardest two weeks.
“Taking the first week in comparison to what’s left in the Giro, you’ll look back in Brescia and go ‘well actually it was nothing’. I don’t think the gap will be 1:16 in Brescia. Whoever is in pink at the time the gaps will be quite considerable.”
The four-time Olympic gold medalist admits he has endured a frustrating time in the first nine stages, however.
“I just seemed to have one problem after another really,” he said.
“I’ve said all along the Giro is going to be like that and every time I’ve ridden the Giro it’s been challenging like that, let alone going for the GC (general classification).
“You’ve just got deal with it as things come along.”
Team Sky have been put into an unfamiliar position of trying to take the attack to their opponents.
This is in stark contrast to last year’s Tour de France, where Wiggins took the general classification lead after the seventh of 20 stages before finishing three minutes and 21 seconds ahead of team-mate and nearest challenger Chris Froome.
“It’s still not a bad position to be in. One second off the podium, Vincenzo in the lead and three of us in the top 10,” said the 33-year-old.
“(Attacking) is not what we’re used to. Last year we defended a lot and had people attacking and trying to get rid of us. It’s a different position we’re in now and we’ll try to take advantage of that and play other cards. There’s a lot to play for.”
Nibali leads the impressive Cadel Evans by 29 seconds, with Robert Gesink in third. Defending champion Ryder Hesjedal suffered a dismal stage nine and has fallen three minutes off the pace.
Today the riders face the first high-mountain stage to Altopiano del Montasio.
The climb to Altopiano del Montasio is new to the Giro this year and ranks among the race’s biggest challenges - something Wiggins hopes presents an opportunity.
“It will be one of the toughest finishes of this Giro, that’s for sure,” Wiggins said said in Cycling Weekly. “The race could tip upside down again.”