Wiggins labours on return, pulls out of Vuelta

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(AFP) – Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France and Olympic time trial champion, struggled during the opening stage of the Tour of Poland on Saturday in his return to cycling after a two-month absence.

Wiggins finished a distant nine minutes and 13 seconds adrift of stage winner Diego Ulissi in what was his first competitive outing since mid-May, when he was forced out of the Giro d’Italia with a chest infection.

After being dropped on one of the climbs and labouring to a 58th-place finish, Wiggins announced he would not be taking part in next month’s Tour of Spain as he works his way back to fitness.

“I won’t do the Vuelta, that’s for sure,” said the Briton.

“The world championships is what I’m aiming for. It’s just small steps at the moment. I’m just focused on the present, not thinking about next year.”

Lampre-Merida rider Ulissi sprinted to victory on home soil atop the summit finish at Madonna di Campiglio in the Dolomites as the race started abroad for the first time in its 85-year history.

Following Saturday’s 184.5 ride from Rovereto, Sunday’s second Italian stage is a 206.km route from Marilleva Val di Sole to Passo Pardoi Val di Fassa.

The race then returns to Poland for the remaining five stages, culminating with a time trial in Krakow.

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