The Team Sky squad had a great day all round, with Bradley Wiggins finishing second, Edvald Boasson Hagen fifth and Chris Froome 11th, and with no mishaps to report on what was a tricky prologue course tackled in gusty conditions.
Tour favourite Wiggins said he was glad to get the opening day’s racing out of the way, and happy that it had gone so well for him. “I finished second, which is a good start. Physically, I felt fantastic out there,” said the Briton, who gained at least six seconds on all his likely GC rivals and half a minute on some of them.
Wiggins said that after doing recon of the Liège prologue course in the morning, he noticed that there were several tricky sections and decided not to take any major risks. “I concentrated on physically doing everything we’ve been training for,” he said. “There was a cobbled section and a few drains on the way out, there was an off-camber roundabout where again I didn’t take any major risks.
“There’s a commitment in that kind of race for the stage win and there’s acommitment thinking of the three weeks, and I took the second option. I didn’t go across the first section of cobbles on the tri-bars – I came off them for safety reasons. I felt in control during the first half and then just stepped it up.”
Brailsford looked very satisfied with the day’s outcome. “The objective beforehand was to get the team through in good shape and to gain some time on the GC riders if possible, to get a few seconds on them. We didn’t really want to win it. It would have been nice to have won it, but we didn’t really want the yellow jersey right from the very off. It would have complicated issues for us in terms of the bigger picture, so it’s been the ideal start,” he said.
Brailsford was quick to pay tribute to his team leader, admitting he was particularly impressed with the way Wiggins had performed given the pressure that has been building on him. “Bradley’s had a lot to do in the last few days. The media intensity around him is massive, and the expectation that’s put on him is bigger than ever. But after all that he’s delivered and he’s shown that he’s very, very strong. His last kilo was very fast. He looked really impressive,” said Brailsford.
“I think what’s really positive is that when there is so much extra pressure on someone and you can put all that to one side and step up and deliver like Bradley has done today, then it shows that he’s a big time performer and that you can rely on him. He deserves a lot of credit for doing as well as he did today in this environment.”