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Cycling: Struggling Wiggins upbeat over Giro hopes

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins remains optimistic about his flagging Giro d'Italia chances and says it will be a new race when the peloton resumes racing on Tuesday following a challenging first week hindered by difficult weather conditions.

"The rest day has been very beneficial," said the Olympic time-trial champion on Monday.

"I really needed it mentally. Physically everything is fine," added the Englishman who lies fourth overall and 1min 16secs adrift of Italian race leader Vincenzo Nibali.

"The gap is far from insurmountable," Wiggins insisted.

The Team Sky leader also feels that Nibali has weaknesses and reminded onlookers that the Italian suffered difficult days on last year's Tour de France when Wiggins' became the first British rider to win cycling's most prestigious race.

"He (Nibali) had some off days on the Tour (de France) and it could happen again on the Giro, especially when you see how difficult the course is," he added after being hampered by wet and dangerous conditions on week one that saw Wiggins lose time after a crash.

"My real disappointment was the time-trial (on Saturday). I wanted to win and pick up time but we've been surprised by the beginning of this Giro and you have to remember I was delayed by a fall and a puncture....but that's racing."

"Let's be honest, I descended like bit of a girl really after the crash," he said. "Not to disrespect girls, I have one at home. But that's life and we have to push on and deal with the disappointments.

"I never expected it to be as straightforward as the Tour last year."

"Now the programme has less traps and we will know the real answers in the high mountains.

Wiggins also expects Nibali to try and extend his lead rather than sitting back and playing it coy.

"He will continue to ride aggressively. I can't see him trying to defend 30 seconds from now until Brescia (the race finale on May 26)," Wiggins said.

Wiggins is also aware of the threat posed by former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans of Australia who is currently second and only 29secs behind Nibali.

"Cadel is the best I've seen him since he won the Tour. He is the dangerman in that position."

The race resumes on Tuesday with a tough 167km run from Cordenons, that culminates with a dreadful final climb to Altopiano del Montasio that includes a stiff 20% incline.

"It will be one of the toughest finishes of this Giro, that's for sure," said Wiggins. "The race could tip upside down again."

The 33-year-old is still looking for his first individual win of the season after finishing fifth behind Nibali during the Tour of Trentin when he was punished by mechanical problems.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130513/cycling-struggling-wiggins-upbeat-over-giro-hopes