Sir Bradley Wiggins & Sky reveal Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix plans & how Lance Armstrong stories led to bullying of his kids

"Is your dad the same as Lance Armstrong?"

by John Stevenson   February 5, 2014  

Sir Bradley Wiggins at the 2013 Tour of Britain (CC licensed image by Peter Broster:Flickr)

Sir Bradley Wiggins has revealed that he has a new target for the 2014 season: the Paris-Roubaix race, considered the hardest and most prestigious of the one-day early season Spring Classics.

Speaking at Team Sky’s training camp in Majorca, Wiggins also expressed a desire to win the Tour of California, to help fill the “void” left in American cycling by the stripping of Lance Armstrong’s victories, and to return to the Tour de France this year alongside team-mate and reigning Tour champion Chris Froome.

The apparently bitter rivalry between Wiggins and Chris Froome came to an end at a three-day team-bonding session in Majorca last December, where the two Tour winners had the chance to talk about the previous year.

“It was the first time we really just sat down in a room and talked, which we hadn’t since the Tour of Oman last year,” he said. “I think that was a lesson for us all for this year, just spending more time together. Then things don’t get lost... you’re not reading about someone through the newspapers,” writes Tom Cary in the Telegraph

Looking forward to the Tour

It sounds like Team Sky has a simple plan for the Tour de France: Chris Froome as team leader, defending his title, and Wiggins as hugely experienced right hand man.

According to the Guardian’s Will Fothingham, Wiggins said: “I’m looking forward to going back to the Tour as an ex-winner, doing myself justice and the team justice, and being part of that. A lot of it was coming to terms with [the Tour win] – I left home as an unknown and five weeks later came back as one of the most famous people in the country. I’m not carrying the burden that I did carry for four years of ‘is he going to win the Tour?’

“We’re actually looking forward to racing together. It’s nice when it’s like that. I want to do the team proud and do myself proud.”

One area where Wiggins feels he can be especially useful is in defusing the “horrible atmosphere” that developed when Froome’s strong 2013 performance led some to suspect him of using performance-enhancing drugs.

“I kind of felt I won the public over, especially the French public, two years ago,” Wiggins said. “Part of that was because I spoke French. And I had a laugh with them. It’s like the film Gladiator, you win the public and you win your freedom. I kind of won my freedom. Whereas the opposite happened with Chris if you like. It would be nice to go back to the Tour and, if anything, just take the pressure off Chris a little bit. Take some of those questions for him. And challenge people for him.”

Team boss Sir Dave Brailsford said that the Wiggins-Froome rivalry was “no longer a story. Sorry but you’ve wrung that one dry. Chris is as committed to win this year as last year.

“Things happen, you see it with a lot of gold medallists, there’s a lull, which is a human phenomenon, but I think he’s managed it really well. We’re totally determined it won’t happen again. He’s had his time to go and do all his bits and bobs. He will go a bit more steady this time, [in 2013 he was] trying to earn the respect of his team-mates and one of the issues or challenges was to try and refine that.”

Froome and Wiggins are scheduled to race together for the first time this year at Tirreno-Adriatica in March. Their interaction will be closely watched for signs of a the return to the old rivalry or that the hatchet has truly been buried.

Paris-Roubaix: plugging a hole in Sky's record

Before the Tour de France, though, Wiggins’ early-season targets are Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of California.

Brailsford described the Spring Classics as a “gaping hole” in Sky’s palmares. Wiggins has been thinking about filling that hole since 2012.

Wiggins said: “Once the fighting is done in the early sectors, it’s about spending long periods of time on your own, which I’m good at. It gives me a different dimension.”

He doesn’t think that there’s much specific preparation he can do for Paris-Roubaix though. He said: “That’s one of the beauties of it – it’s sustained threshold, there is a lot of risk involved but other than the reconnaissance of the race, there is physically not much difference. I always remember the press cuttings from when I was a kid – Roubaix is always something and I’d love to win it, to be part of that final [shakedown], that final 40 or 50 kilometres, so many things come together to have to win that race, or play a part, even if it’s doing a job for Geraint Thomas or whatever.”

Brailsford rates Wiggins’ chances. He said: “Paris-Roubaix is a race he’s always liked since he was a youngster, he’s always been there in the background, he’s always felt he has got the physical attributes, so there is an opportunity. The Classics are a gaping hole in our palmares and we’d like to try and sort that out.”

Going to California, Beckham style

In May, Wiggins plans to swap the cobbles of Roubaix for the rather smoother Tarmac of California. He returned from a visit to Los Angeles feeling that the Lance Armstrong scandal has left a hole in American cycling.

“Cycling is huge there and there is a huge void there. People in the US are keen on cycling but have been robbed a little bit with what’s gone on. Then we will see where the future goes. As a Tour winner with credibility, with no skeletons in your closet, people look up to you and want to get on their bikes because of what you achieved one summer.

“That is quite rare, especially within cycling – there are not many of us Tour winners that haven’t got a history, three or four, part of a very small club, and it’s our responsiblity to preach that to the world.”

Asked if he wanted to do for cycling what David Beckham did for soccer in the US, Wiggins said: “I wouldn’t say that but who knows?”

Bullying

Wiggins also revealed that the Lance Armstrong scandal led to his children being picked on. He said: “The Lance Armstrong thing in January... my kids started getting harassed at school. ‘Is your dad on drugs? He won the Tour. Is he the same as Lance Armstrong?’ My son getting bullied at school. I had to move my kids from that school and move them to another school.

“Horrendous stuff. Horrible. I felt responsible for that and it all added to my unhappiness at the time. But like I say a year on and it feels like a complete contrast. I feel much more comfortable in my own shoes now.”

And what of the future beyond 2014? Wiggins is in the last year of his contract with Sky and said he did not feel right signing a new deal until the season was underway. And any deal will have to take into account his hope to ride for Team GB on the track at the Rio Olympics.

“That was where it all started for me in Sydney [2000],” he said. “To finish there, and hopefully go out on a high, would be great.”

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

The renaissance of Sir Bradley Wiggins? This is certainly the sort of thing you'd want to hear if you are Chris Froome and (Sir) David Brailsford.

It is certainly refreshing to hear his change of perspective. I wish him luck this season, and you never know, Chris might get a cold in the mountains, and it'll be him in the driving seat....what this means for Ritchie Porte is anyone's guess though. I imagine the politics of Team Sky are far from a reflecting pool of calm.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1120 posts]
5th February 2014 - 14:04

26 Likes

Wiggins was 66/1 last week to win Paris-Roubaix. Wish I'd put a tenner on at that price, expect the odds to shorten now...

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1092 posts]
5th February 2014 - 14:25

26 Likes

Think they missed a chance to win Classics when they had Flecha, who always seemed left to fend for himself somewhat.

posted by msw [125 posts]
5th February 2014 - 14:39

27 Likes

In an unrelated matter - he was on BBC News (the Yorkshire regional news whatever that is called) talking about how he was looking forward to it coming to Yorkshire and how he missed riding it last year and had to watch it on telly.
Im sure he said somewhere that he couldnt bear to watch any of it?
Thinking

posted by Some Fella [749 posts]
5th February 2014 - 14:55

31 Likes

Good to hear this positivity from Sir Wiggo - hope he wins on the cobbles

posted by acjim [29 posts]
5th February 2014 - 15:08

25 Likes

Really great to hear a more positive Wiggins. It was awesome to see him win the Tour and I would love to see him regain top form again even if he isn't vying for a grand tour win

posted by jarredscycling [446 posts]
5th February 2014 - 15:18

21 Likes

good to see Wiggo fired up again.

He's done Paris-Roubaix a number of times so knows what to expect; maybe he can take advantage if the likes of Boonen, Cancellara and Vanmarcke are marking each other...

Obviously, the new cyclocross world champ Stybar will be trying to put right what he lost last year.

Let's just hope the race doesn't get decided by mechanicals.

posted by Metjas [283 posts]
5th February 2014 - 15:33

30 Likes

Welcome back Sir Brad.

Look forward to seeing you laying it down on the roads this summer Smile

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1246 posts]
5th February 2014 - 16:33

17 Likes

If Chris and Brad go to the tour as strong, positive team-mates, they'll be hard to beat. Bring it on!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3116 posts]
5th February 2014 - 16:53

21 Likes

Actually, betting update - there are still a couple of bookies offering ridiculously long odds on Wiggo for P-R. Most have shortened to around 33/1 and will get shorter still as the race approaches. But I've just got a tenner on 66/1; real odds probably more like 16/1 I'd say.

Spartacus still favourite for me & you're looking at 5/2 at best, Boonen rather overpriced at 4 or 5/1. Good value around on Stybar though (9/1), and Chavanel available at 400/1!

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1092 posts]
5th February 2014 - 21:18

30 Likes

Colin Peyresourde wrote:
...what this means for Ritchie Porte is anyone's guess though. I imagine the politics of Team Sky are far from a reflecting pool of calm.

Well, he's getting his shot in the Giro. And I imagine it'll be his only shot; if he fails to get the podium despite having the Sky machine working for him as leader then I expect he'll be on his way.

Funny old race this Giro. Not the strongest field, but certainly very competitive. For me it'll be a shoot-out between Purito & Quintana for the GC - but there are a good number of other riders who'll be challenging for the podium including Cadel, Porte, Uran, Basso (maybe), Horner (yup), and even Majka or Aru.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1092 posts]
5th February 2014 - 21:25

19 Likes

Kids are cruel.

posted by Super Domestique [1599 posts]
5th February 2014 - 21:29

11 Likes

Nice Gladiator reference, a man of great culture. Sky team bus haz big TV?


Suffering from Low Cadence.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1256 posts]
5th February 2014 - 23:54

13 Likes

Great to see Brad back on the scene again. Cant wait to see him in action this year!! GO WIGGO

posted by mikefreer [17 posts]
7th February 2014 - 17:11

11 Likes

As with all sports its the things going on outside that often have the biggest impact on performance. Hopefully he has sorted out his kids being bullied but not good that he had to move them to another school. The Armstrong issue has impacts most of us could only guess at. I wonder if he considered speaking at his kids school to discuss drug use in sport.

posted by BigBear63 [69 posts]
7th February 2014 - 20:55

17 Likes

Kids can be cruel, but they've usually also not learnt the adult art of not asking awkward questions (e.g. our small son in the changing room at the pool with his mother: "Mum, why's that lady so fat?"), so they're simply very direct.

Equally, doping has cast a very long shadow over the public perception of cycling, especially after some who vehemently denied doping finally confessed. It makes it hard to know who to believe.

Gerard the Kiwi

GerardR's picture

posted by GerardR [84 posts]
7th February 2014 - 22:29

14 Likes