Being tapped on the shoulder with a sword by an old lady in a big house in London made him “more nervous... than being in an Olympic final,” Sir Bradley Wiggins said today after being formally awarded a knighthood by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Speaking after the ceremony, Wiggins told Sky Sport: “It was quite a nerve-wracking thing for me actually, it’s not a comfortable environment for me, being in there.
“But it was an incredibly humbling experience, to meet some of the people I’ve met today and to see what they have received awards for.
“You feel a little bit inferior at times. There are people in there getting things for services in Afghanistan and, as a sportsman, you do it for the success, and you never expect to get things like this.
“It’s an amazing experience, to have the family here as well.”
Wiggins was sufficiently nervous that he had no idea what had passed between them when he exchanged a few words with the Queen.
“I can’t remember what she said or what I said!” he said. “I was probably more nervous going up there and doing something like that, than being in an Olympic final. I can’t remember what happened.
“The success that British sport had last summer, I think captivated everyone, and to be given an award like this through your achievements in sport, it’s a very humbling experience to go through, and a great honour as well.”
The honour came in recognition of his stellar 2012 season in which Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France and took his fifth Olympic gold medal when he won the individual time trial in London
He said: “The Olympic Games in London was probably the height of everything, plus the Tour de France.
“It was an incredible year. Although we’re nearly a year on now, this puts closure to 2012, well and truly, receiving this today.”
After missing the 2013 Tour de France, Wiggins seemd determined to make a comeback in 2014.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “I’m deep in training at the moment and training hard.
“Injuries wrecked this summer but I’d love to be back at the Tour de France in some capacity and to get back to the physical heights of 2012.
“Long-term, I’m focusing on gold medal number five in Rio (at the 2016 Olympics).”
But he doesn't think he will be back as team leader at the Tour.
“Chris is the current winner of the Tour de France and I think he has the right to defend that title next year,” he said. “If I can play a support role, then I’d love to be back in a successful team and on the start line.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.