at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Los Angeles – Britain's Bradley Wiggins captured the Tour of California title and said he looks forward to backing countryman and teammate Chris Froome's bid to repeat as Tour de France champion.
Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner, took the overall crown in the eight-stage US event after compatriot Mark Cavendish, who won the opening stage, also took the final stage over rolling hills.
Wiggins (Team Sky) easily held onto the yellow jersey in the closing 76.1-mile (122.4km) stage that began and ended in Thousand Oaks, a Los Angeles suburb.
Moments after Cavendish won the sprint across the finish line to take the stage in 2 hrs 53 mins 50 secs, Wiggins captured the overall crown in 28:22.05.
“It's right up there in terms of satisfaction more than anything,” said Wiggins. “I set my store to win the Tour of California. At 34 it's nice to still be winning at this age.”
Then Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France left no doubt that he would support Team Sky's Froome in July when he seeks back-to-back triumphs in France.
“Chris wants to win a second tour and I think everyone is behind that, including myself,” Wiggins said.
“If I am fortunate enough to be in the Tour, it will be in support of Chris and that's that.”
Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France and then followed with a 2012 time-trial gold medal at his home Olympics in London.
On Sunday, Wiggins denied Australian overall runner-up Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) in a final bid to close the 30-second gap between them after Saturday's seventh stage.
“I had an incredible team around me,” Wiggins said. “The team took the whole strain this week. They have done a fantastic job. It was a fantastic way to finish.”
American Lawson Craddock finished third, remaining 1:48 adrift after the final stage.
For Cavendish, a 28-year-old Omega rider, the stage victory was something of a surprise.
“I'm in the form of my life,” he said. “To win the sprint I know my condition is good. I really wasn't expecting it.”
Germany's John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was second in the stage with Slovakian Peter Sagan (Cannondale) third, both in the same time as Cavendish. – Sapa-AFP