Bradley Wiggins: Taking 2010 one day at a time
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Bradley Wiggins: Taking 2010 one day at a time

by Steve Jones at 1:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Team Sky's new signing Bradley Wiggins is like everyone else reading this - only human. And while the British rider was the revelation of last year's Tour de France, he knows that in order to equal, or even better his performance, it will require more sacrifice than ever before. With all of the expectations that come along with is new contract, Wiggins, like everyone else, will have to take his battle for the top step of the Tour podium one step at a time.

"Managed to go to my sister in-laws NYE party and not drink! finally I'm cracking it." commented Wiggins on Twitter this New Year's Day.

It may not seem like a lot to those unfamiliar with his past, but giving up the drink is a necessary extra step if he intends to live up to his expectations come July - never mind the obvious reasons of health. Since his amazing ride in the Tour Wiggins has often Tweeted his encounters with the bottle.

In his book In Pursuit of Glory, Wiggins writes: "Apparently it’s a well-known phenomenon, but Olympic gold medallists usually only lose the plot for a month or so.

"My bender after winning three medals, including my first gold, in Athens in August 2004 lasted a good eight or nine months and I wasn’t quite right for at least a year.

"I wasn’t just drinking for England during this period, I wasn’t quite at the races mentally either. For a while my life threatened to spiral out of control."

Wiggins explains in the book how his success in Athens and his newly minted celebrity status changed things for the worse: "The Tour of Britain was upon us and it quickly developed into a gloriously liquid nationwide lap of honour.

I was introduced and feted wherever I went - and I am as prone to enjoying a little flattery as the next man."

Wiggins won two golds at the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing, and the Team Sky project was given wings with the momentum from the haul of eight gold medals brought home by British Cycling's track team. With his three gold medals at the games, Chris Hoy was knighted and became Britain's Sportsman of the Year, further evidence that the sport was hitting the big time. For Wiggins, now the pressure cooker is really on.

More from his book:

"Cath [his wife] had decided to work through her pregnancy, leaving the house early and not getting back until well after six in the evening. What could I possibly do to occupy myself for the rest of the day?

"Not a problem: 11am on the dot I would be outside the front door of my local, waiting impatiently for the landlord to open up. I wouldn’t move for the next seven hours as I steadily sipped my way through 12 or 13 pints. I would fit in the odd game of pool or darts, read the newspapers, treat myself to a spot of lunch, make a few calls, watch the sport on the TV - it was everything you dream of doing when you are putting in long hours of training."

Wiggins' father was an alcoholic, and living with the reality that the disease runs in the family, it's a good sign that he's publicly working to stave off his admitted weakness. With the sport's growth in popularity his every move will be watched and every decision will be all the more important.

"The arrival of Ben in March 2005 was a huge jolt to the system and sobered me up, literally and metaphorically, for the first time since the Olympics," he said.

"Suddenly, apart from feeling extremely happy and proud, everything made sense. Everything going forward had to be about Cath and Ben, looking after them and soldiering on, and doing the best job I could until I got a break in my professional career."

Wiggins has his big break now and the next seven months will set the tone for the rest of his cycling career. During the 2009 Tour Wiggins did well to keep the headlines in check: "I just want to get through tomorrow, really," he said at a press conference during the last week of the race. "Tomorrow is another tough stage, so I just want to concentrate on that." If he keeps that approach the Briton stands a good chance of weathering the media's perfect storm. Carpe Diem - one at a time.


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