Bradley Wiggins: “Every lap of the Champs-Elysées was goose pimple stuff”
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bradley Wiggins: “Every lap of the Champs-Elysées was goose pimple stuff”

by Ben Atkins at 1:53 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Gent-born Londoner becomes the first British rider to win the biggest race in sport

bradley wigginsHaving surpassed so many records during the 2012 Tour de France, as he crossed the finish line on Paris’ Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) became the first ever British rider to win the race. Never having been more than seven seconds away from the Maillot Jaune, as he finished second to RadioShack-Nissan’s Fabian Cancellara in the Liège, Belgium, prologue, the Gent, Belgium, born Londoner took the race lead on stage seven, and never looked like relinquishing it all the way to the end.

On the way to Paris, Wiggins surpassed mentor Chris Boardman’s and Garmin-Sharp rider David Millar’s British record for the number of consecutive days in yellow in one Tour (three), and Boardman’s record career total (six); he then eclipsed the combined total of eleven for all of his compatriots that have worn the jersey, which includes the late Tom Simpson and current Sky directeur sportif Sean Yates, who each wore it for a day.

Spending a total of fourteen stages in the yellow jersey, Wiggins’ time in the race lead was the longest unbroken spell since French legend Bernard Hinault dominated the 1981 race. What will not be lost on Wiggins though, is that his victory comes 50 years after Simpson - of whom Wiggins is a big fan - became the first Briton to take the yellow jersey.

“It's hard to take in as it happens. Every lap of the Champs-Elysées was goose pimple stuff,” said Wiggins after the finish. “We had a job to do with Mark today and we were all motivated to do that so it made it go a lot quicker. The concentration was high and for Mark to finish it off like that... well, it couldn't get any better.

“I don't actually know what to say that I haven't already said yesterday.”

Wiggins final victory was all-but assured before yesterday’s time trial but, with general classification hostilities traditionally suspended on the final day, he just had to cross the line safely today to take his victory.

“It's brilliant, but I'm lost for words,” he said. “It's a different feeling to 24 hours ago but we've come here and we were committed to what we were doing so there was no sense of, ‘Oh, this is it.' It was so hard once the race started and, right to the end, when I was leading out with a kilometre to go. Right now, at the base of the podium, I'm trying to soak it all in and it's hard to articulate what I'm feeling. It's a strange feeling, really – very strange.”

Wiggins’ race was rounded off in perfect fashion for the large British crowd that line the barriers of the Champs-Élysées, as the yellow jersey was instrumental in leading out teammate, compatriot, and World champion Mark Cavendish for his third stage of the race, and fourth straight victory on the famous Paris boulevard.

“Now we've come out of our bubble and now we start to realise what it means to all these people who have come over here for the weekend,” Wiggins said. “That turn [under the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs] was just a sea of Brits and the noise was incredible. It was close to what it was like at the Olympics in Athens when I was coming into the home straight. It's that kind of feeling. It's phenomenal. You couldn't fail to hear it.”

Usually, the winner of the Tour de France would go straight to a string of post-race parties, but it is not to be for Wiggins - or Cavendish, teammate and runner-up Chris Froome, and Millar - who head straight for a Team GB training camp and the build up for the Olympic road race next Saturday, and the time trial the following Wednesday.

“Tonight I go home,” he said. “Everything turns to the Olympics and I'll be out on the bike tomorrow and I've got an Olympic time trial to try and win, so that's a higher priority than anything else. It's a little weird to leave Paris without a party because it would be nice to spend time with the team and really enjoy it. This has been – as everyone's seen – such a team effort. Even today, it was an incredible group of guys. I've had the privilege to ride with them for the past three weeks; it's been an absolute honour.

“You imagine that you'd feel an enormous sense of relief but you get there and it's a very strange feeling,” he added. “I remember watching Cadel [Evans] win it last year and thinking, ‘God, that must be incredible!' But it happens to you and it doesn't feel as you imagine it to feel. It's a strange sensation. It's very surreal.”

Wiggins once again showed his human side; "I'm going to draw the raffle tickets now," he joked from the podium in the centre of the Champs-Élysées, after apologising for addressing the crowd in English.

“My mother’s over there,” he added. “Her son has just won the Tour de France.

“Thank you everyone. Cheers. Have a safe journey home and don't get too drunk.”


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