TREVISO, Italy -- Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is down and possibly out of this year's Giro d'Italia after losing 3:17 in Thursday's 12th stage.
Wiggins has been suffering with a chest infection for the last four days. After several hard stages, he paid the price again today when he lost time on the rain-soaked Montello descent, 35 kilometers from the finish in Treviso.
"It's a long time I've seen Bradley Wiggins dropped on the flats," team principal David Brailsford told journalists gathered at the Sky bus. "He was pretty brave and showed a lot of courage to get on his bike when he opened the curtains this morning. When he was feeling sick, the last thing he wanted to see was the pouring rain."
Wiggins rolled to the team bus, stopped, leaned his bike against it and climbed onboard without saying a word. It had been a long three hours in the saddle. When the race departed Longarone shortly after midday, rain was coming down in buckets.
The 2012 Tour de France champion suffered six days ago when he crashed and lost time on the wet roads to Pescara. On Sunday's stage to Florence, again with the rain coming down hard, he was distanced. Today, the race's shortest stage after the opener in Naples was just too much.
"He's sick. It's pretty obvious today. He was battling for a couple of days," Brailsford said. "We hoped it'd be better today, but it got worse overnight. It was always going to be an uphill battle today, but … It's not like Bradley Wiggins to lose a wheel on the flat."
Brailsford would not say whether Wiggins would pack his bags and head home to Great Britain.
"You've got to be realistic, he's been on the bus for five minutes," he said. "He lost a lot of time, he needs to shower, have food, and see how he is overnight. He'll carry on if he's over it, but if it's worse, the doctors will have to make a decision as to what's best health-wise."
The team doctor waited on the bus to tend to Sir Wiggins after the stage. The team makes an almost three-hour transfer to Busseto tonight. In the morning, Wiggins may have a better idea if he will continue or not. However, according to forecasts, he is likely to see more rain on Friday when he opens the curtains.
Whether Wiggins stays or goes, changes are underway in the Sky camp. Colombians Sergio Henao and Rigoberto Urán stayed with the main group on Thursday when Wiggins lost time. Urán, third overall, now becomes the team leader.
Brailsford said the team's new goal would be to put him on the final podium in Brescia, hopefully on the top step.