Bradley Wiggins calls Lance Armstrong 'a lying bastard'
Wiggins recalls episode from 2009 Tour de France when Armstrong suddenly found new strength
BRADLEY WIGGINS has accused Lance Armstrong of being a "lying bastard" in the wake of the American's interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Wiggins, who last year became the first Briton to win the Tour de France, has said little about Armstrong since he was banned for life from cycling in October and labelled a serial cheat by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
But speaking to reporters at Team Sky's training camp in Mallorca yesterday, Wiggins poured scorn on the idea that the 41-year-old Texan never doped after 2005.
Wiggins said he watched Armstrong's TV confessional with his seven-year-old son, Ben, though with reluctance. "Part of me didn't want to watch, the fan in me didn't want that perception of him to be broken as this amazing athlete," said Wiggins. "Then I had to watch... so those initial questions, the yes/no answers, just watching him suddenly cave in after all those years of lying so convincingly it was a lot of anger, a lot of sadness and slightly emotional."
What angered Wiggins most was Armstrong's assertion that he stopped doping in 2005, the year he won the last of his seven Tour de France titles, and that when he made a comeback in 2009 he was riding clean. In that year's Tour, Wiggins finished fourth, one place behind Armstrong, although halfway during the race the Briton was by far the stronger rider.
On the 15th Stage to Verbier in the Swiss Alps, Wiggins finished 29 seconds quicker than Armstrong but six days later when the Tour climbed to the top of the infamous Mont Ventoux (where British rider Tommy Simpson collapsed and died in 1967), the American reached the 6,273ft summit 21 seconds quicker than Wiggins.
"What upset me the most was [Armstrong talking] about 2009-10," said Wiggins. "I thought 'you lying bastard'. I can still remember going toe to toe with him and [comparing] the man I saw on the top of Verbier in 2009 to the man I saw on the top of Ventoux a week later when we were in doping control together – it wasn't the same bike rider. You only have to watch the videos of how the guy was riding. I don't believe anything that comes out of his mouth anymore."
Wiggins admitted that Armstrong had duped him, like he had the rest of the world, into believing miracles really do exist. "I was a fan of Lance Armstrong," said Wiggins. "I remember watching him win the worlds in '93 in Oslo. I was 13. Then he got cancer and then he came back and won the Tour de France in '99 when I was 19 years of age. I remember it was so inspirational at the time, having seen what he had come from, all those pictures of him with cancer and then he has won the Tour de France."
Ultimately it was all a myth, as Armstrong confessed to Winfrey, but Wiggins is left with no sympathy for his former idol, saying he "deserves everything he gets" for having inflicted irreparable damage on cycling. "It's heartbreaking for the sport," said Wiggins.