Sutton on Wiggins: “It was the magnitude of the success that Bradley couldn’t deal with”
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sutton on Wiggins: “It was the magnitude of the success that Bradley couldn’t deal with”

by Shane Stokes at 8:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Rider’s mentor speaks about issues 2012 Tour de France winner has faced plus decision not to target yellow again

Shane SuttonHaving long been a guiding figure in Bradley Wiggins’ life, British Cycling coach Shane Sutton has said that he is ‘devastated’ that the rider has decided not to chase success in future Tours de France, but has emphasised the significance of what he has achieved in his career.

Reacting to yesterday’s news that Wiggins will pursue different goals rather than trying to win another yellow jersey, Sutton has said that he has two big targets in mind; taking gold in the world time trial championships, and Paris-Roubaix.

“There is only one thing that Bradley really wants to put on his palmares now. He already won he Olympic individual time trial in blinding fashion, but he wants to don that rainbow jersey. So I wish him well in that,” Sutton told VeloNation.

“Obviously I am devastated that he has decided to opt out of Tours in the future, but we all know Bradley is a family man. Hopefully he can enjoy that…that’s first and foremost. Secondly I hope he can enjoy the rest of his time in cycling, because I think it has been a pretty turbulent season for him.”

Wiggins had a dominant 2012, winning the Tour and also taking Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Olympic time trial. However things haven’t gone to plan this season, with the Briton taking zero wins and dropping out of the Giro d’Italia after slipping out of contention.

Since then he has been struggling with a knee problem; according to Sutton, that has abated and he is ready to knuckle down again. However any thoughts of doing the Tour were abandoned weeks ago.

“I think Bradley has had to overcome a lot of illness this year, a lot of injuries and a lot of setbacks that people haven’t been aware of. Niggles here and there,” said Sutton. “Maybe that is also a sign of the times for Bradley – he is getting more injuries. I’ve always said that no one can go as deep as he does in training, and therefore you are going to get the odd little tear, you are going to have the odd little problem.”

In the interview below, Sutton discusses Wiggins' new career direction, his own reaction to that, the difficulties the rider has faced and how the successes of last year may be part of the problem in this season. “He has been successful all his career but the magnitude last season to go and win every goal that he set out to achieve was probably a little bit mind-blowing,” he said.

The Australian also explains why he believes Wiggins can win Paris-Roubaix, why the hour record is not a target and also comments on whether or not he will remain with Team Sky.


VeloNation: Bradley Wiggins has said that he is unlikely to ever target the Tour de France again, despite winning the race last year. Are you surprised at that?

Shane Sutton: Well, what more has the guy got to prove? He has won the Tour. He is a national treasure. He has achieved everything in cycling that he has ever wanted to achieve. As I have said, there is only one thing that Bradley really wants to put on his palmares now. He already won he Olympic individual time trial in blinding fashion, but he wants to don that rainbow jersey. So I wish him well in that.

Obviously I am devastated that he has decided to opt out of Tours in the future, but we all know Bradley is a family man. Hopefully he can enjoy that…that’s first and foremost, and secondly I hope he can enjoy the rest of his time in cycling, because I think it has been a pretty turbulent season for him, given what has happened with injuries and illnesses and other things.

Last but not least, let’s embrace the fact that he is going to leave the sport in twelve months time or two years time or whatever as something he has always craved, and that is a legend. The first ever British winner of the Tour, probably one of the greatest Olympians of all time alongside Sir Chris [Hoy] and Sir Steve Redgrave, and he needs to embrace that and enjoy the fact that he is a national treasure. That’s it, really.

VN: You were working less with him this year. Do you think that has also been a factor in him maybe not being as fired up as he was last year? It is well known that you have been very good for his motivation in the past…

SS: No, I am not so sure. A lot of people said that, but what we have got to remember is that Bradley Wiggins is, as I said, a legend. Just because I wasn’t with him this year or whomever else wasn’t with him on a regular basis wasn’t the difference between winning and losing.

I think Bradley has had to overcome a lot of illness this year, a lot of injuries and a lot of setbacks that people haven’t been aware of. Niggles here and there. Maybe that is also a sign of the times for Bradley – he is getting more injuries. I’ve always said that no one can go as deep as he does in training, and therefore you are going to get the odd little tear, you are going to have the odd little problem.

I don’t think Shane Sutton not being there with him there this year was any reflection on Brad’s results whatsoever. I think Brad has had to come to terms with a lot of changes in his life, given the fact of what he has achieved in the past 24 months.

Bradley WigginsVN: Previously when he did very well in the Olympics in 2004, he said that afterwards he found it very difficult. He achieved all these goals and, with the ambitions achieved, was left with a gap afterwards. He wrote about getting depressed over that in his book...other riders have also said the same. Do you think there is a chance that doing so well last year made it difficult for him to raise himself up again?

SS: Yeah, I think that we all like to have coping strategies in place for these guys. One of the guys who really set the platform and the pathways for world class, for the track programme where most of the legends who have come from, was Jason Queally. He said to me, ‘look, we call all deal with the failures, Shane – it’s the success we can’t handle.’

I think that after Beijing we weren’t ready for that success. I don’t think we had the management structures around the riders, etcetera. Fortunately for Bradley he had a good management team, he had a lot of good people around him and everything else, but it was the magnitude of the success that Bradley couldn’t deal with. He has been successful all his career but the magnitude last season to go and win every goal that he set out to achieve was probably a little bit mind-blowing. Not least to Bradley but to all of us. We were all thinking ‘wow, this guy is incredible.’

He will go down as the greatest British road rider of all time, there is no two ways about it. It just shows you what hard work, sacrifice, commitment and all these things can achieve if you put them all together.

VN: So you think that he feels in any way let down by the team, in that he is no longer seen as perhaps the big guy for the Tour. Is that a factor in his decision? Chris Froome appears to have filled that gap quite quickly.

SS: No, I don’t think so…I think that Chris has seized on an opportunity here with Bradley having quite a few setbacks this season. Froomey is in my eyes an able replacement. I think that the Chris Froomes of this world and everybody – we saw the incident with Bradley in the Giro and that time trial when after he had that puncture, the guy was poetry in motion.

There are no two ways about it – Chris knows he has got a big pair of boots to fill, but I don't think that Bradley in any way felt that he was going to be ready for the Tour, given the issues he has had. And I don’t think he would hold it against Chris being the man to take over his mantle.

He would be wishing him well and he would be 100 percent behind the team, contrary to what goes on out there and what everyone says. At the end of the day, we are under the one umbrella, we are all British. Okay, we are all supported by Sky and the other partners and we all want success as a unit.

VN: How is Bradley’s injury – is he more or less over it now?

SS: Yeah, he was in again with the doctors yesterday. He has been riding, but obviously there is a difference between riding in our world and in his. I haven’t spoken to his coach Tim Kerrison, but I’m looking now that they will be bringing a bit more intensity into their work and looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. Getting him back into racing as soon as he is 100 percent. I’m hoping it will be a very dry Roubaix next year for him!

VN: So you consider that the big goal, the one he wants to win?

SS: Well, the time trial is the one he wants…definitely that. But also definitely Roubaix. Remember, the guy can average well over 300 watts for six hours in power. He is been 25th in Roubaix in the past, he has sustainable power for long periods of time, which is what you need to win something like Roubaix. If you look at Fabian [Cancellara] and you look at the ride Tom [Boonen] did when he won it, that back end, that pure strength riding on your own.. They never actually sat on the wheel and so it ideally suits good time trialists. Bradley is the best in the world at it.

Bradley WigginsVN: What about the hour record?

SS: I don’t think so. I can’t see that.

VN: Is it the case that it doesn’t interest him?

SS: Well, it is something I have never discussed it with him, and I have never heard anyone talk about the hour record. I’m pretty sure it’s well within his capabilities, but I don’t think that is the sort of thing that would motivate Brad after winning the Tour de France.

VN: Do you see him staying with Team Sky?

SS: It is 100 percent that he will stay with Team Sky. He has got a contract with the team, he is happy there, he won the Tour with Team Sky. I am quite sure that he has been happy with the management there and team principal Dave [Brailsford] and all the support staff he has had and the network around him. He wouldn’t have achieved greatness if he didn’t have all that. So yes, 100 percent he will be at Team Sky.

VN: Finally, what do you think of Chris Froome’s chances for the Tour?

SS: One hundred percent favourite. It is going to take someone very special to beat him.
 

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