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Sunday, July 15, 2012 - Page updated at 08:00 p.m.
Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins rejects 'boss' concept
By JAMEY KEATEN
The Associated Press
LE CAP D'AGDE, France — Bradley Wiggins of the Sky Procycling team says he doesn't think the Tour de France needs a "boss" of the pack. At least not him. He says riders are equal and he is too reclusive.
But the 32-year-old Briton is taking charge at cycling's greatest race and showed leadership Saturday with a bold, if unsuccessful, effort to help a teammate win the 13th stage — instead won by German Andre Greipel of the Lotto Belisol team.
Greipel covered 134.8 miles from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Le Cap d'Agde on the Mediterranean in 4 hours, 57 minutes, 59 seconds.
Wiggins finished 12th in the stage to retain the overall leader's yellow jersey.
Greipel earned his third stage victory this Tour — a photo finish showed he won by half a wheel's length over Slovakian rider Peter Sagan of the Liquigas-Cannondale team. Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, a teammate of Wiggins, was third.
Wiggins, with Boasson Hagen on his back wheel, led a speeding bunch of riders around a sharp final bend to overtake two breakaway riders, hoping to set up his teammate for the stage victory.
Instead, Greipel — seeing the Wiggins setup in the works — held close to Boasson Hagen and outsprinted him in the final few-hundred yards to the line.
Cycling experts have pointed to riders over the years who have dominated the pack, or peloton, with attributes of teamwork, willpower and race mastery, among others — earning them the "boss" moniker.
Recent examples are American Lance Armstrong, the retired seven-time champion, and two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador of Spain — who is still competing but is missing the Tour over a doping ban linked to the 2010 race.
Many believe Wiggins is positioned to become the first Briton to take home the yellow jersey after the Tour ends July 22. But he says it is not his style to be the dominant force in the pack.
"I don't think it's important for the peloton to have a boss, 'cause I think we should all have our own voice, and I've never thought that anybody should be above anybody else," he said. "At the end of the day, we're all equals. I think in the past, when there have been bosses and that, it's more through fear than respect — it's certainly something that I have sensed, anyway."
For Wiggins, it might be a question of personality.
"In terms of being a boss, it's not something I'm going to stand in front" to do, he said. "I'm a bit too much of a recluse for that."
Wiggins leads second-place Sky teammate — and fellow Briton — Christopher Froome by 2 minutes, 5 seconds.
"The most important thing for Sky is that those two guys remain friends until the end," said Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis. "But I can't answer whether it will be the case or not."
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