Former Team Sky and British cycling coach Shane Sutton told ‘The Observer’ newspaper on Sunday that 33-year-old Wiggins was undoubtedly at a crossroads in his career after he announced on Friday he would not be defending his Tour de France crown later this month.

Wiggins has had an annus horribilis after last year’s uninterrupted glory, which culminated in him being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

However, he had to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia and subsequently Team Sky’s line-up for this year’s Tour de France, which begins on June 29, after a chest infection and a knee injury left him unable to train.

Her had already been told by Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford he would not be leading the team’s challenge at the Tour, that honour going to Chris Froome, who worked so hard for his win in last year’s edition.

“This is definitely a crisis point,” said Sutton, who is now an advisor to Team Sky.

“What will it do to him mentally? I don’t know.

“When you have a setback like this you need to take inspiration from others, so I’d cite (Australian cyclist) Cadel Evans, who had a rough year last year but has come back to get on the podium of the Giro at 36,” added the 55-year-old Australian

Sutton, who in 1987 rode in the Tour de France for the first British team to compete in the great race, said Wiggins should aim for the Tour of Spain in August as a target to try and revive his morale.

“Brad needs to set some goals as soon as possible, something to get him back on his bike,” said Sutton.

“The best would probably be the Vuelta (the tour of Spain, which starts on August 24) as preparation for the world championship individual time trial, which is a goal that has eluded him until now.”

Sutton equated Wiggins’s present state to that of washing a car.

“He needs to improvise, find some diversity, do different things to get the same result,” said Sutton, who won a gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in track cycling.

“It’s like a sponge washing a car – he’s been wrung dry.”