Bradley Wiggins: Tour 'more human'

CHARTRES, France -- Bradley Wiggins has one thing to say to critics who call this year's Tour de France boring: Get used to it.

The doping that fueled past Tours was thankfully being driven out of the sport, Wiggins said, leaving riders to make "marginal gains" by getting enough sleep and staying hydrated.

"If people want to see those incredible 220-kilometer lone breaks in the mountains, maybe it's not realistic anymore," Wiggins said after essentially wrapping up his Tour de France victory with a dominating win in the final time trial on Saturday.

"As wonderful and as magical as they were to watch, I remember watching as a kid in the 90s, Virenque and stuff, you know, but maybe the sport's changed now," Wiggins said, referring to ex-doper Richard Virenque, who won the race's King of the Mountains award a record seven times.

Wiggins, who has said he never could dope because he would lose everything if he was caught, said a lack of stunning feats in the mountains was a sign that cycling has changed for the better.

"I think the Tour is a lot more human now with everything the UCI is doing," Wiggins said, referring to the body that runs international cycling.

Wiggins' Team Sky was so certain that dopers have been washed out of the peloton that it shrugged off the few attacks that rivals launched in the mountains, confident they would be reeled in.

"Someone would attack and Mick (Sky rider Michael Rogers) would say, 'Just leave them. He can't sustain that,'" Wiggins said. "It's not possible to sustain that if we're riding 450 watts, someone's going to have to sustain 500 watts to stay away on a 20-minute climb, which is not possible anymore unless you've got a couple of extra liters of blood."

Wiggins wrote an editorial in Britain's Guardian newspaper during the Tour in which he said he could "never" dope because he feared losing his reputation, livelihood, marriage and titles.

Instead of daring mountain attacks like those of the late Marco Pantani, races these days are won through tiny improvements in nutrition and recovery, Wiggins said.

"Hydration, getting to bed early, having our own chef on Tour for the food and all that, that is where all the marginal gains are, that's what makes the difference," he said.

Earlier in the Tour, he lost his composure when asked by a reporter to comment on cynics who believe cyclists need to dope to win the Tour.

On Saturday, Wiggins drew a parallel between those critics and the ones who say this Tour has lacked drama.

"Quite often," he said, "the people who say it's boring are the ones who say, 'He's on drugs anyway.'"