Bradley Wiggins won the 70th edition of the Paris-Nice race on Sunday, edging home first in the closing 9.6km time-trial stage.
His victory in the eighth and final stage made him the first Briton since Tommy Simpson in 1967 to triumph in the early-season Race to the Sun classic.
“This was massive. I’m thinking of the record of Simpson, my cycling idol. It’s like Bobby Moore for football fans,” said Wiggins, referring to the 1966 World Cup winning England captain.
The Team Sky rider is tipped as a potential victor of this year’s Tour de France in July. He finished fourth in the 2009 edition.
“We have a plan with my training team. The plan took off on November 1, in order to hit the peak in July. Paris to Nice was part of that plan,” Wiggins said. “Even if Paris to Nice was a target, I’m probably at 95 percent form-wise and I can get better,” added the rider, who turns 32 next month.
Wiggins took possession of the yellow jersey on Monday last week in the 185.5km second stage on the flat between Mantes-la-Jolie west of Paris and Orleans.
Completing the Paris-Nice podium were Dutchman Lieuwe Westra, eight seconds behind Wiggins, and Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, one minute, 10 seconds back.
Wiggins added to a career haul that also includes three British road titles, a trio of world track honors and as many Olympic track golds.
His victory in the Paris-Nice was one of the tightest in the race’s history and a photofit of Spaniard Miguel Indurian’s win over Ireland’s Stephen Roche in 1990.
Westra and Valverde had likewise gone into Sunday’s uphill time trial from Nice to the Col d’Eze in second and third place.
Wiggins pipped newcomer Westra in the time trial by 1.98 seconds, while the day’s early leader, Frenchman Jean-Christophe Periaud, slipped back into third place, 33 seconds back.
“I lost by two seconds, which is a disappointment, even if I didn’t expect to hit this level in this Paris to Nice. I came up against Super Wiggins,” Westra said.