Sir Bradley Wiggins has claimed he has found out facts relating to the leak of his Therapeutic Use Exemptions and the so-called ‘Jiffy Bag’ case which are “very sinister” and wants it all to come out into the open.
In 2016, the so-called ‘Fancy Bears’ hackers released information showing that Wiggins received permission to use the banned drug triamcinolone before his biggest races in 2011, 2012 and 2013, including the 2012 Tour de France which he won.
Those revelations were followed by a 14-month UK Anti-Doping Agency investigation into whether a package delivered to Team Sky at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011 – a race Wiggins also won – contained the same drug, with UKAD forced to close the case earlier this year because of missing medical records.
Speaking on ITV4’s coverage of the Tour de France, Wiggins said: “There are things that have come to light with this whole thing that we’ve found out since that are quite scary actually and it’s very sinister.
“We’re still not at the bottom of it, we’re finding new stuff out daily to do with the package that never was and all this stuff and it’s quite frightening actually.
“We’re still working on it, still trying to piece it all together. Not a legal team, just other people coming to us now and saying, ‘You know this has happened, don’t you?’
“We can debate TUEs and that’s one thing, but where it went after that with everything else – there is a film to be made there.
“God yeah, I’d love it to all come out. Once it’s all stacked up and pieced together, it’s quite shocking.
“There are a few people bricking it at the moment, I know that for sure. I hope it comes out of its own accord but it is in certain people’s interest for it not to come out and get buried.
“We’ll see. It’s all gone very quiet at the moment.”
Wiggins’ TUEs did not break any rules, but raised ethical questions and led some to suggest that details of all TUEs issued should be published in the interests of transparency. Wiggins dismissed that idea in typically colourful fashion.
“I don’t think it would help publishing riders’ TUEs as some people will have embarrassing things they don’t want out there,” he said. “What if a rider has an affair and gets a sexually-transmitted disease and there is medication for that on his records?”
Last week, Wiggins suggested Sky would have a “real problem” on their hands if Geraint Thomas took the yellow jersey ahead of four-time Tour winner Chris Froome – a scenario which came to pass as Thomas won back-to-back stages in the Alps to lead the Tour by one minute and 39 seconds from Froome.
It created an intriguing comparison with the 2012 Tour when Wiggins and Froome had an uneasy relationship, with Froome appearing to attack Wiggins on Stage 11 before sitting up, perhaps trying to show he was the stronger rider despite being in a domestique role.
Six years on, Wiggins said he did not think Froome was trying to take the yellow jersey off him.
“I don’t think Chris was trying to attack me to drop me and win the Tour in 2012,” he said.
“He was thinking he needed to secure his second place and he wasn’t as confident in his time trialling as he is now.
“There is so much stress and pressure in this race that you’re on edge. I didn’t realise some of that until after.”
The puncture came in the final kilometre of the stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux for the UAE Team Emirates rider, hampering the Irishman’s chances of keeping up with the General Classification (GC) contenders as they crossed the line.
However, despite the bad luck, Martin retained his position in the top-10 overall, falling just one place to 10th as he came home 19′ 52” behind Spain’s Astana rider Fraile.
Crucially, despite his bad luck, he was still just under two minutes adrift of yellow jersey occupier Geraint Thomas, as well as Team Sky colleague Chris Froome and Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin, who crossed the line together in 30th, 31st and 32nd places respectively.
Martin, who was 50th, is now 06′ 54” behind Thomas, but has a healthy near three minute gap to Movistar veteran Alejandro Valverde in 11th.
Fraile put in a late attack to take home his first ever Tour victory.
Martin said: “It was the worst moment possible (to get a puncture before the climb). Either side of the road there was a lot of gravel and we were riding on the side of the road, it was a risk and it happened, but there is nothing you can do.
“That’s just the way it is. It was a hard start and everybody knew it was going to go on to the smaller roads and no-one panicked. It was a really strange day.”
Sunday will see riders head for the Pyrenees and the last of the mountain stages as they tackle a 181.5km route from Millau to Carcassone.
Two early categorised climbs could test the peloton and anyone who is feeling the strain of the previous stages may find themselves fighting to stay in contention.
If those two climbs don’t split the peloton then the final one, the Pic de Nore – a 12.3km category one climb with an average gradient of 6.3 per cent – certainly could.
There will be a long descent before riders hit the flat finish in what may be a thrilling end to racing before Monday’s rest day.
Astana’s Fraile overhauled fellow escapee Jasper Stuyven – who had been away solo for 33 kilometres – on the steep climb up to the Mende aerodrome, making the catch two kilometres from the end of the 188km stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux.
Trek-Segafredo’s Stuyven did his best to chase back with the help of Quick-Step Floors’ Julian Alaphilippe but ended up third behind the Frenchman as the final survivors of a 32-man breakaway contested stage honours more than 18 minutes ahead of the General Classification hopefuls.
The top three in the GC standings crossed the line together as Thomas followed home team-mate Chris Froome and Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin, with the trio eight seconds behind LottoNL-Jumbo’s Primoz Roglic.
The Slovenian, fourth overall, attacked three kilometres from the finish to pick up a handful of seconds.
But others struggled, most notably AG2R La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet and Movistar pair Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana.
Quintana gave up 10 seconds to Thomas, while Bardet was 14 seconds back and Landa 29.
There were further signs of the ill-feeling towards Team Sky and Froome in the finale, with several fans booing and gesturing towards the Sky riders, while Froome had what appeared to be a clear liquid thrown at him.
UAE Team Emirates’ Dan Martin was not with the main group after suffering a puncture one kilometre before the climb while Adam Yates’ recent struggles continued as he was dropped as soon as the road went up.
The provisionalGgeneral Classification showed Thomas retaining his lead of one minute 39 seconds over Froome, with Dumoulin a further 11 seconds back.
Roglic is now two minutes 38 seconds down in fourth, with Bardet’s deficit to yellow growing to three minutes and 21 seconds.
After going clear of the remnants of the breakaway 35km from home, Stuyven hit the final climb with over a minute and a half in hand, but could not hold off Fraile.
When Alaphilippe also bridged over, the pair briefly combined to try to chase down Fraile, but the Spaniard was too far ahead and had plenty of time to enjoy his first career Tour stage win.