Yellow jersey holder Bradley Wiggins remains frustrated at the negative attitude some members of the media have towards him despite his best efforts at this year's Tour de France.
We're here in July and no-one's said, ‘You know what Brad, bloody good on you mate. Well done'.
After fielding another question on the subject of riders doping, framed in such a way that suggested his likely victory in this year's race would be overshadowed by the dramas surrounding Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) and Remy Di Gregorio (Cofidis), the Sky rider said that was up to others to decide before adding a post-script.
"Can I just say one thing," he said. "I don't think Frank Schleck was in the race when he was positive, and I don't think Remy Di Gregorio was ever going to do anything in the GC," Wiggins said after his third-place finish on Stage 17.
Schleck was sent home by his team after returning a positive test for diuretic xipamide just two days ago, while Di Gregorio was arrested and suspended on doping suspicion just a week before ahead of Stage 10.
But Wiggins, who has been fending off questions from journalists through the Tour, suspicious of both his and team-mate Chris Froome’s outstanding form throughout July, called for credit where it due.
"You do something like that and then you sit somewhere like this and then you've got something like that fellow asking a question … and straight away it's in a negative sense,” he said.
"After everything I've done this year, you still have to justify.
"For me in a positive sense, nobody's actually praised me yet.
"No one's actually said, ‘You know what Brad, good on you mate, well done. You've answered all these doping as articulately as you can, no one's patted me on the back yet, it's all just in a negative sense, 'Oh yeh but don't you reckon it's just because Alberto's not here?
“For once, all year, it's have you peaked too early Brad, have you peaked too early? And I've said it's all training about July, and now we're here in July and no-one's said, ‘You know what Brad, bloody good on you mate. Well done'."
Wiggins was roundly criticised for his abrasive attack on those questioning his form early on in the Tour, largely because of the colourful language he used in his defence.
But he has made an effort to rebuild bridges over the past week and a half, allowing his riding to do the bulk of the talking.The Briton heads into tonight’s Stage 18 with an increased lead of 2min 41sec over Liquigas-Cannondale rider Vincenzo Nibail after another commanding performance on Stage 17, the last in the mountains for 2012.
With Saturday’s time-trial left to ride after that, it looks almost certain that Wiggins will complete the largely ceremonial stage for GC contenders in Paris as Great Britain’s first winner of the great race.