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Bradley Wiggins expecting tough Tour of Britain defence

Bradley Wiggins is expecting a closely-fought Tour of Britain as he looks to defend the title he won 12 months ago.

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The Team Sky man took the spoils in 2013, having experienced a momentous 2012 which saw him win both the Tour de France and gold in the Olympic time trial.

With this year's Tour set to get under way in Liverpool on Sunday, Wiggins revealed his strategy for the eight stages.

The final stage is set to be a short 8.8 kilometre time trial in London, and Wiggins is planning to remain in contention before pushing for victory in the capital.

"I won't be able to take much time [in the time trial], 15-30 seconds maybe, so it will be a question of staying close to everyone, finishing in front on the Tumble [stage three, on Tuesday] then go into the last stage close up and try to poach it on the last day," he told the Guardian.

Supporting Wiggins will be fellow Team Sky man Ben Swift, the sprinter who is targeting at least one stage win.

"This is one of the times when I think I've got the condition and the confidence, I've had a better year than in the past and I want to keep moving forwards," he said.

"In Britain, there are always stages where the climbs may not look super difficult, but they can put the pure sprinters in trouble.

"It's often about what position you get over the climb, so there are times when they simply can't get back to the front in time for the finish, or there are stages when the climbs just take too much out of their legs."

Challenging Swift will be Omega Pharma Quick-Step's Mark Cavendish, although the 29-year-old is not confident in his own fitness after damaging ligaments in his shoulder.

"I'm just going to enjoy myself and see what the week brings," he said. "I'm fresh enough but I just haven't got the really high quality racing miles in my legs this season.

"After opting to miss the Giro d'Italia, crashing out of the Tour [de France] on day one and not recovering sufficiently for the Vuelta [a Espana] I have ridden just one day on the Grand Tours this season, you just can't ever replicate that racing and the fitness it gives you."

Cavendish's team-mate Niki Terpstra is expected to feature strongly, as is Tinkoff-Saxo's Nicolas Roche.

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