Sir Bradley Wiggins says he’d be pissed off if he were Sir Chris Hoy, and used a rather stronger swear word to rebuff questions about his Sky team mate-cum-rival, Chris Froome.
Speaking to the press on the eve of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where he will be riding for England in the team pursuit, Wiggins ambushed the obvious Tour de France-related question by opening with the words, “Fucking Chris Froome.”
According to a Daily Mail report, the phrase was delivered very much in a tongue-in-cheek style, and reporters had already been told that discussion of the Tour de France – a race that Wiggins became the first ever British winner of in 2012 – was off the agenda.
Instead, Wiggins spoke about his ambition to help England win team pursuit gold in Glasgow, and then aim for what would be the fifth Olympic gold medal of his career in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
But he also found it strange that the velodrome in Glasgow where the track events at the Commonwealth Games will be held over the next few days didn’t give greater billing to the six-time Olympic champion it’s named after.
“It is a bit odd,” said Wiggins. ‘I’d be a bit pissed off if I were him because they’ve stuck a great big Emirates sign over his name and it doesn’t stand out that it’s the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome other than a little thing as you walk in. It’s more like a shopping sign with an Emirates thing on it.
“I think there should be more made for him. Stick a whopping great statue outside because it doesn’t hit you straight away that it’s his velodrome. I think he got done over a bit.
“But he won’t complain because he’s far too nice. So I’ll complain for him. They should do something about it.”
Wiggins, winner of seven Olympic medals in total, four gold, one silver and two bronze – Hoy has seven too, six of those gold – also spoke about his return to the track.
“Especially having not been selected for the Tour, the track was kind of like the perfect distraction,” he said.
“The road’s so different. It’s not enjoyable the road, in some ways. You go there and there’s so much pressure on you because of who you are within road cycling.
“Everyone’s watching you all the time, whereas you can go into the track and have off days and no-one really sees.”
Given his history with Froome, it was always unlikely that Wiggins would ride this year’s Tour de France in support of the man who succeeded him as champion.
“I remember finding out I wasn’t doing the Tour,” said Wiggins. “Then it was like: ‘Monday morning I was hitting the track.’
“It was like going back 15 years: the excitement of building my bike up again and getting back on the track for the first time. It was really refreshing actually, just enjoyable.
“I felt back in with the boys and they didn’t really care who you were. It was kind of like I had been away for the school holidays and come back to a new year and there new kids starting and everything.
“I’m a lot stronger than I used to be in the event, which is one of the things the road has given me. Hopefully that will continue for the next two years.”
Wiggins has never won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games – he has three silvers – but said that it “is a fantastic event in its own right.”
He went on: “Going up against Australia or New Zealand [or host nation, Scotland – Ed], it could be an Olympic final or world final.
“Being part of it all at 18 in Kuala Lumpur [in 1998] was like being at the Olympics. I was in the village with the likes of Steve Backley, Iwan Thomas and all those types of people.
“At the time it was massive. I guess that was the warm-up to the Olympics two years later and that inspired me to move on,” he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.