Riders angry at Armstrong, says Wiggins

TOUR de France champion Bradley Wiggins has joined fellow British cycling star Mark Cavendish in venting his frustration at the damage done to the sport by fallen great Lance Armstrong.

Wiggins said he and his contemporaries shouldered an extra burden now that Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned for life following charges from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

But the London 2012 Olympic gold medallist said he doubted the “stubborn” Texan, who denies doping but is not contesting the USADA charges, would ever cave into pressure to make a confession.

“I think there is a lot of anger from most people within the sport,” said Wiggins, who became the first Briton to win the Tour this year.

“It is a sport I love and have always loved. It is a shame that cycling is being dragged through this again really, not a shame that he has been caught – when you get older you start to realise Father Christmas doesn’t exist and it is the same with Lance – but it is a shame that us riders here now, we are the ones picking the pieces up and having to convince people.”

On whether admitting doping would help Armstrong, Wiggins added: “Definitely, but he is a stubborn man and I don’t think he is ever going to confess. He has too much to lose.”

Cavendish also called on Armstrong to admit to any wrongdoing for the good of today’s riders, saying: “It’s not fair on me having to answer these questions. If you’ve done something, confess.”

Wiggins spoke yesterday as Tour organisers revealed full details of next year’s centenary race, with the mountainous route expected to impede his hopes of retaining the yellow jersey.

Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, who finished second overall this year, is fancied to be a stronger challenger and tipped to lead the British outfit instead.

Spanish two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador, who completed a two-year doping ban in August, offered support to Armstrong yesterday, saying: “He is being humiliated and lynched, in my opinion. He is being destroyed.”

■ The 100th edition of the Tour is daunting by any standards and begins in Corsica on 29 June and climaxes with an unusual evening finish on the Champs-Elysees on 21 July

■ The time trials beloved of Bradley Wiggins are down from 100km to 65km, which is likely to severely dent his chances of regaining the title. Chris Froome could lead Team Sky instead

■ Hardy climbers, such as Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, are tipped to thrive on a mountainous route, including two ascents of the notorious Alpe d’Huez on stage 18