No time to party for Bradley Wiggins – now it's the Games
The first Briton to win the Tour de France is now set on winning gold at the London Olympics
BRADLEY WIGGINS won the Tour de France on Sunday and within hours he was back in Britain, his attention firmly focused on the Olympic Games. The 32-year-old Londoner, the first Briton to win cycling's most prestigious event, is chasing a third consecutive individual gold as well as lining up alongside his Tour team-mates in the men's road race event.
"Everything turns to the Olympics and I'll be out on the bike on Monday," said Wiggins, admitting it felt a "little weird to leave Paris without a party because it would be nice to spend time with the team and really enjoy it".
The final stage of the 2012 Tour passed off uneventfully for Wiggins, who was able to enjoy the sight of a sun-soaked Paris decked out in hundreds of Union flags as British race fans flocked to the French capital to witness history being made.
Nonetheless, Wiggins played his part in ensuring Sky team-mate Mark Cavendish won the stage to lift his overall stage victories to 23, one ahead of Lance Armstrong and Frenchman Andre Darrigade, and 11 behind the record held by the legendary Eddy Merckx.
Having paced Cavendish at one point in the stage Wiggins eventually finished in the chasing peloton to end the Tour three minutes and 21 seconds ahead of another team-mate, compatriot Chris Froome, with Italy's Vincenzo Nibali third. Asked later if he was aware he'd become a sporting icon in the last three weeks, Wiggins replied: "I've got to get used to that, it's going to take a while. I'm just trying to soak it all in. You never imagine it will happen to you but it's amazing."
Prime Minister David Cameron praised Wiggins's achievement, saying: "Like everyone in the country, I'm absolutely delighted. Bradley Wiggins has scaled one of the great heights of British sporting achievement".
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, lauded Wiggins's "incredible determination, focus and will to win" and said his feat would "encourage thousands more people to take to two wheels". Even the French president, Francois Hollande, was moved to remark that Wiggins "is a complete rider. He is a good climber and a super time trialist".
Not that Wiggins will let the attention go to his head. Disdainful of the cult of celebrity Wiggins also shuns the modern trend for overt displays of emotion. Mercifully there were no tears on the podium in Paris - just another candid insight into what drives this remarkable man.
"A lot of it comes from within. That's probably what makes me a good athlete, that I am strong mentally and perhaps people don't give me enough credit for that," he said. "I'm blowing my own trumpet here, but I'm good at burying my head in the sand, not answering my mobile – it doesn't work for other parts of life, but it works for cycling."
And then, just for a fleeting moment, Wiggins showed his softer side. "Some dreams come true," he said. "My mother over there, she's now... her son has won the Tour de France." ·