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The top level road racing career of arguably Britain’s greatest ever rider will be coming to an end as he rides an elongated lap of honour around Yorkshire this weekend

Bradley is done…

The top level road racing career of arguably Britain’s greatest ever rider will be coming to an end as he rides an elongated lap of honour around Yorkshire this weekend.

“Wiggo” has been a divisive character but someone we can all look up to having risen from the ranks of track riding and time trials to become the first British winner of the Tour de France.

You can’t buy a legacy like that. And… like him or loathe him, his mark on the sport is massive.

Rather than regurgitate the entire life story starting in Ghent, I want to pick 5 moments post the watermarked date on my photo to profile the great man. I took this from my camera phone in the stands at Manchester Revolution in January 2006 at the start of a pursuit event.

At that point I was taking a picture of a British Olympian and no more… But what would happen next would change my view…

2007 Tom Simpson Anniversary

The hysteria over the Tour de France starting in London was starting to dissipate. The Grand Depart had been spectacular and my legs were just beginning to get their feeling back after 7 hours stood against a crush barrier on the Mall. I was waiting for David Millar to give Fabian Cancellara what for that day. He didn’t and then Mark Cavendish crashed on the next stage through Kent. Cursed!

Wiggins was the quiet man of the British peloton at that point. But the poignancy of his attack on the 40th anniversary of Tom Simpson’s death will live long in the memory.

There was a fleeting 10-15km that I thought he would make the finish. His Cofidis kit was sticking to him through the sweat of the effort. His long hair was flowing out of the back of his helmet. No marginal gains to be had there.

But the headwind and the combined effort of spending all but a couple of kilometres alone in the lead of a Tour stage was enough for him to be reeled in for a bunch sprint.

It was spirited and a nod to the massive sense of history that the man has gathered about our sport.

I loved every minute of the breakaway and it certainly helped grow the legend.

2009 Tour de France

With Cavendish mania in full effect I found myself standing at the side of a mountain with a block of chalk writing “Go Cav” on the road.

I followed up with “David Millar” as we were in Catalonia and he was a local resident there.

As an afterthought and due to his good start in the race I used the rest of my stick to write “Wiggo”.

It looked pretty feeble in comparison to the swirling letters of the names of my other British heroes. But I was happy that I had remembered Wiggins was riding and was able to show my support.

A couple of days after that he stayed with the leading riders into Andorra and a nation woke up to the sports of bike racing once, and hopefully, for all.

Wiggins held on to that position in the top group for virtually the whole of the rest of the race. He even had the cheek to attack the Schleck brothers, Contador and Armstrong. So much for this guy’s lack of panache…

The last weekend of the race with the summit finish on Mont Ventoux was incredible for both Wiggins and his fans alike.

He dug in so bravely and despite finally getting dropped by the only riders ahead of him on GC he had come fourth (subsequently third, but we won’t dwell on that) in the Tour de France.

This result equalled the previous best finisher from these isles. It was a breakthrough and the only question people had now was whether he could go on and win it…

2012 Tour de France

Wiggins had a couple of false starts with Team Sky. There was a big buy out of his contract to get him from Garmin/Slipstream and his first two tours with them had gone badly. One he was simply not good enough in the mountains and the other ended in an ambulance with a broken collar bone.

2012 had one of the flattest Tours of recent years with plenty of time trials. Wiggins got hold of the yellow jersey and defended it brilliantly with the aid of his team (ahem!).

When he arrived at the summit of the new climb Planche de la Belle Filles with only Chris Froome and Cadel Evans in tandem I dared myself to dream.

I had watched the Tour since 1987 and this was as close to a British winner as I had seen.

Every stage got more and more tense as the days ticked by until Paris.

There was the perceived act of treachery by Froome and that final mountain of the Tour when Nibali’s legs folded in on themselves and it was clear Bradley would be win.

I was still nervous for the penultimate days time trial. Punctures or a crash could still derail the Wiggins bid.

As a nation we would be fine and Chris Froome would swoop in and ensure we still won the Tour, but for some reason that didn’t feel like it would be the same.

At the end of that TT, Wiggins punched the air with joy. I sat in front of the TV eyes filling up and how much this win meant to everyone connected with cycling in this country.

The procession of the Champs Elysees was a brilliant afternoon with beers and laughter. The whole family got together to cheer out man home and as he crossed the line I remember leaping up and letting out a scream of relief. It was over and the yellow jersey was coming to the island from the mainland for the first time in history.

2012 Olympic TT

In the days after the Tour win we were treated to all of the 2012 Olympic wonder and excitement. We are not a nation comfortable with celebrating who we are and what we do well.

It was unchartered territory and the Wiggins/Froome/Cancellara duel around the packed Surrey lanes was another cracker.

The most used image of the soon to be Sir Bradley was the one of him sitting on the throne of time trial champion still in his Team GB skin suit.

2015 Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix

My kids have to be cycling fans by default. The eldest knows who Sir Bradley is and her last ever glimpse of him as a pro rider was a quiet country lane as the Tour of Britain whizzed by.

She is three but picked out the great man riding along in the peloton towards Hemel Hempstead. I hope she has some recollection of that in years to come and tells people how she saw him in action.

My last sighting in the flesh was as the Tour of Flanders rolled past on the way out of Bruges. I had prepared myself for the moment, being a devotee of British Cycling I have mental preparation down to a tee. It’s the physical training that stops me being a good rider (!).

But it still kind of got to me…

I was in the doorway of a chocolate shop (very Belgian) and had initially spotted Peter Sagan. Then, there he was… smiling and enjoying the start of the race. It was barely 650 metres old but here was a man, riding towards the city of his birth at the end of his top level career.

He seemed relaxed, comfortable and at ease with himself. It was lovely to see and despite my feelings of disappointment that it was the last week of his Team Sky career I was pleased to see it.

The rest of the peloton and the team cars trundled by and then that was it. I was stood there and had taken it all in.

Should I have snapped a picture as in 2006?

The actual end in Roubaix was viewed by some as anticlimactic. I was out of my seat at the attack and how easily he rode clear. But the fact he couldn’t shake the anchors on his back wheel was a sign.

The last desperate attack in the final two or three kilometres was never going to be enough to get across to the leaders and it felt at the time a sad end.

However, I am over that now and looking forward to the hour record and next stage of a career that has been amazing to follow.

Thanks for the memories Sir Brad. Thanks. 

James has been blogging for road.cc for 5 years and racing bicycles (averagely) for 20 years. 

44 comments

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Al__S [1288 posts] 3 years ago
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Lets not forget "Brad the team mate"- stand outs being 2011 World Championships shredding the field, and that Champs Elysee stage in 2012 (indeed, the day before the final TT too) where he set himself up as an integral part of the Cav train- the yellow jersey doesn't usually lead out of the tunnel on the final lap.

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notfastenough [3731 posts] 3 years ago
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Al__S wrote:

Lets not forget "Brad the team mate"- stand outs being 2011 World Championships shredding the field, and that Champs Elysee stage in 2012 (indeed, the day before the final TT too) where he set himself up as an integral part of the Cav train- the yellow jersey doesn't usually lead out of the tunnel on the final lap.

Indeed. If there is one hi-res picture I'd love to have, it's of Wiggo leading out Cav on the Champs Elysee.

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themartincox [553 posts] 3 years ago
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"The top level road racing career of arguably Britain’s greatest ever rider will be coming to an end as he rides an elongated lap of honour around Yorkshire this weekend.

“Wiggo” has been a divisive character but someone we can all look up to having risen from the ranks of track riding and time trials to become the first British winner of the Tour de France."

Two words; Nicole Cooke.

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farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
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themartincox wrote:

"The top level road racing career of arguably Britain’s greatest ever rider will be coming to an end as he rides an elongated lap of honour around Yorkshire this weekend.

“Wiggo” has been a divisive character but someone we can all look up to having risen from the ranks of track riding and time trials to become the first British winner of the Tour de France."

Two words; Nicole Cooke.

Do you really believe that?

Not to besmirch Nicole's achievements in any way shape or form but Wiggins, like him or not, is close on to being a global superstar. People that don't know cycling will still know Bradley Wiggins, that's what puts him ahead of Nicole Cooke, as well as Boardman and Hoy. The Tour de France is a worldwide fascination, millions upon millions watching from all corners of the earth, Wiggins has stood on podium with the Arc de Triomphe after winning that race, that's what puts him ahead of everyone else.

I agree that Nicole Cooke should have been/should be celebrated more highly, I'm also of the mindset that female cycling as a whole should be trumpted more loudly and given parity with the male branch, but let's not be silly here, Wiggins has ascended to a level above other British cyclists.

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themartincox [553 posts] 3 years ago
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the key words there were "Britain’s greatest ever rider" and "first British winner of the Tour de France".

Not talking about his superstardom, but his palmares, and Nicole simply wipes the floor with him.

and a tweet from Inrng to really hammer that home..

"If Wiggins wins in Roubaix it'll be 4th RR win in 14 years after GB nationals in 2011 + stages in 2012 Tour Romandie & 2005 Tour de l'Avenir"

so, great at track and did ok on the road, but no way "Britain's greatest ever rider"

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farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
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themartincox wrote:

and a tweet from Inrng to really hammer that home..

"If Wiggins wins in Roubaix it'll be 4th RR win in 14 years after GB nationals in 2011 + stages in 2012 Tour Romandie & 2005 Tour de l'Avenir"

so, great at track and did ok on the road, but no way "Britain's greatest ever rider"

I'm a tad confused by that to be honest. It seems a little like bad science.

He won Paris-Nice, Dauphiné, Romandie, Tour of Britain, California, Herald Sun Tour, and lets not forget this, the single biggest bike race on the planet - The Tour de France. That is way up and above what I would class as "ok on the road".

And that's ignoring the small matter of him being the Britain's most decorated Olympic athlete.

If you are just using getting over the line first as an indicator of then surely we'd be discussing Cav vs Cooke, but we're not so I suspect your apples are slightly more appley than my oranges.

I'm pretty sure Mike Tyson won more titles and belts that Muhammad Ali, but the whole overall package with Ali, and being classed as a great is inexorably linked with image and recognition, means that not even Tyson would claim that he was the greater boxer than Ali.

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themartincox [553 posts] 3 years ago
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Wiggins had a great season with a great team, Cooke dominated the sport!

She has won pretty much everything out there, road, track and MTB included.

I'm not saying Wiggins is not class or 'owt, just not "Britain’s greatest ever rider"

and he certainly wasn't "first British winner of the Tour de France".

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Daveyraveygravey [602 posts] 3 years ago
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notfastenough wrote:
Al__S wrote:

Lets not forget "Brad the team mate"- stand outs being 2011 World Championships shredding the field, and that Champs Elysee stage in 2012 (indeed, the day before the final TT too) where he set himself up as an integral part of the Cav train- the yellow jersey doesn't usually lead out of the tunnel on the final lap.

Indeed. If there is one hi-res picture I'd love to have, it's of Wiggo leading out Cav on the Champs Elysee.

Best pic for me is the one of him in the starting gate at the Olympic TT with the red white and blue roundel on his helmet...

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Chasseur Patate [151 posts] 3 years ago
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Al__S wrote:

Lets not forget "Brad the team mate"- stand outs being 2011 World Championships shredding the field, and that Champs Elysee stage in 2012 (indeed, the day before the final TT too) where he set himself up as an integral part of the Cav train- the yellow jersey doesn't usually lead out of the tunnel on the final lap.

Cav being the only team mate he's ever bothered to work for, and even then only on a couple of occasions. All because he felt a rare sense of guilt for fucking up a madison.

Brad the team mate? Don't make me laugh.

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James Warrener [1086 posts] 3 years ago
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...hence why I said arguably  3

For me he is. And I take all of the arguments about Nicole Cooke and Tour Feminin on board. But it doesn't change my mind.

Was David Beckham the best English footballer of the last 20 years?

Probably not, but did he break new ground and have a face a person with no interest in sport could recognise?

Absolutely Yes. Same deal for me with Sir Bradley.

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Low Speed Wobble [156 posts] 3 years ago
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"Britain's greatest ever rider". Pure hyperbole. I haven't heard any of the sport's authoritative voices share this opinion. Now, I know who David Beckham is, but who is 'jimmythecuckoo'?

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Plasterer's Radio [416 posts] 3 years ago
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jimmythecuckoo wrote:

...hence why I said arguably  3

For me he is. And I take all of the arguments about Nicole Cooke and Tour Feminin on board. But it doesn't change my mind.

Was David Beckham the best English footballer of the last 20 years?

Probably not, but did he break new ground and have a face a person with no interest in sport could recognise?

Absolutely Yes. Same deal for me with Sir Bradley.

I don't think there is any arguably about it.

He is.

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Plasterer's Radio [416 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Chasseur Patate wrote:
Al__S wrote:

Lets not forget "Brad the team mate"- stand outs being 2011 World Championships shredding the field, and that Champs Elysee stage in 2012 (indeed, the day before the final TT too) where he set himself up as an integral part of the Cav train- the yellow jersey doesn't usually lead out of the tunnel on the final lap.

Cav being the only team mate he's ever bothered to work for, and even then only on a couple of occasions. All because he felt a rare sense of guilt for fucking up a madison.

Brad the team mate? Don't make me laugh.

Was Eddy Merckx a good team mate?

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alotronic [574 posts] 3 years ago
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Can we reset to: Best ever British male cyclist based on palmeres?

Just as well Ireland isn't included or we'd really be in apples and oranges land!

And re being a team mate - well he was team leader. That means he gets to win. That's how the sport works.

I like him. Prickly and occasionally very funny, an actual human, with a real understanding of the history. I know mostly we don't like our sportspeople to have emotions and temperament - but I love it when they do.

Oh yeah, he was the first man to win the male Tour de France. I believe that's a moderately difficult thing to do.

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Chasseur Patate [151 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Plasterer's Radio wrote:
Chasseur Patate wrote:
Al__S wrote:

Lets not forget "Brad the team mate"- stand outs being 2011 World Championships shredding the field, and that Champs Elysee stage in 2012 (indeed, the day before the final TT too) where he set himself up as an integral part of the Cav train- the yellow jersey doesn't usually lead out of the tunnel on the final lap.

Cav being the only team mate he's ever bothered to work for, and even then only on a couple of occasions. All because he felt a rare sense of guilt for fucking up a madison.

Brad the team mate? Don't make me laugh.

Was Eddy Merckx a good team mate?

Wiggins doesn't merit being mentioned in anywhere near the same company as Merckx. Laughable.

alotronic wrote:

Oh yeah, he was the first man to win the male Tour de France. I believe that's a moderately difficult thing to do.

Ah, the 'cycling didn't exist before 2012' thing. I jest, I get you meant 'British' male.

Big sentence alert: Albeit in the dullest most uninspiring Tour in modern history with all the main protagonists absent and being given the tour at the cost of a better team mate whilst crying about wanting to go home half way through and not even engaging his team mates in conversation for nearly three weeks.

But yeah, he won it. The history books say so. Most undeserving Tour winner ever.

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James Warrener [1086 posts] 3 years ago
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Low Speed Wobble wrote:

"Britain's greatest ever rider". Pure hyperbole. I haven't heard any of the sport's authoritative voices share this opinion. Now, I know who David Beckham is, but who is 'jimmythecuckoo'?

haha thanks for the vote of confidence  1 I am an authoritative voice though, don't you worry!

Might be just in my own household.

Avatar
Plasterer's Radio [416 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Chasseur Patate wrote:
Plasterer's Radio wrote:
Chasseur Patate wrote:
Al__S wrote:

Lets not forget "Brad the team mate"- stand outs being 2011 World Championships shredding the field, and that Champs Elysee stage in 2012 (indeed, the day before the final TT too) where he set himself up as an integral part of the Cav train- the yellow jersey doesn't usually lead out of the tunnel on the final lap.

Cav being the only team mate he's ever bothered to work for, and even then only on a couple of occasions. All because he felt a rare sense of guilt for fucking up a madison.

Brad the team mate? Don't make me laugh.

Was Eddy Merckx a good team mate?

Wiggins doesn't merit being mentioned in anywhere near the same company as Merckx. Laughable.

alotronic wrote:

Oh yeah, he was the first man to win the male Tour de France. I believe that's a moderately difficult thing to do.

Ah, the 'cycling didn't exist before 2012' thing. I jest, I get you meant 'British' male.

Big sentence alert: Albeit in the dullest most uninspiring Tour in modern history with all the main protagonists absent and being given the tour at the cost of a better team mate whilst crying about wanting to go home half way through and not even engaging his team mates in conversation for nearly three weeks.

But yeah, he won it. The history books say so. Most undeserving Tour winner ever.

The point was: What difference does being a good team mate matter? Sorry that you were too obtuse to miss that.

You just don't like him. Nothing to do with objectivity.

What other British rider has won the TDF, a shed-load of gold medals etc. and actually has personality?

A one word answer is all that is required.

Haters will hate.

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alotronic [574 posts] 3 years ago
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My vote for most undeserving tour winner goes to... no I am not going to start that one!

Point taken about the objective merit of his TdF win, but I think it was an important moment for British cycling-psyche. You remember when British success in cycling was an, err, occasional event? Well he was part of the revolution, gotta give him that at least!

Anyway, Brad is one of the very few contemporary sportsmen I would have round to dinner. Lewis Hamilton? Andy Murray? I'd rather scan ebay for lengths of old rope.

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kwi [293 posts] 3 years ago
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Andys wife could come to tea though.

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farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
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themartincox wrote:

and he certainly wasn't "first British winner of the Tour de France".

So, go on then, who was the first British winner of the Tour de France?

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Chasseur Patate [151 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

The point was: What difference does being a good team mate matter? Sorry that you were too obtuse to miss that.

You just don't like him. Nothing to do with objectivity.

What other British rider has won the TDF, a shed-load of gold medals etc. and actually has personality?

A one word answer is all that is required.

Haters will hate.

Being a whining, self important child = personality? I guess that explains why Katie Hopkins gets so many column inches then.

You're right, I don't like him. I also despise the fact that he's put on some kind of pedestal.

Decent rider, excellent track cyclist, good TT'r (when the odds favour him and he can be arsed.) Nowhere near as good as the Johnny-come-lately fans paint him though.

Funny thing is, if he was Spanish no-one would rate him this highly.

Avatar
Plasterer's Radio [416 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Chasseur Patate wrote:
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

The point was: What difference does being a good team mate matter? Sorry that you were too obtuse to miss that.

You just don't like him. Nothing to do with objectivity.

What other British rider has won the TDF, a shed-load of gold medals etc. and actually has personality?

A one word answer is all that is required.

Haters will hate.

Being a whining, self important child = personality? I guess that explains why Katie Hopkins gets so many column inches then.

You're right, I don't like him. I also despise the fact that he's put on some kind of pedestal.

Decent rider, excellent track cyclist, good TT'r (when the odds favour him and he can be arsed.) Nowhere near as good as the Johnny-come-lately fans paint him though.

Funny thing is, if he was Spanish no-one would rate him this highly.

Listen to yourself. Pot kettle.

Avatar
farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
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Chasseur Patate wrote:

Funny thing is, if he was Spanish no-one would rate him this highly.

That's quite correct, if he was Spanish, he wouldn't be classed as the greatest Spanish rider. That'd most likely be Miguel Indurain. Who also probably won less than Nicole Cooke, but I'd probably still him the nod over her, it's the 5 Tour de France wins and the Giro titles that swing it for me.

Avatar
Chasseur Patate [151 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Plasterer's Radio wrote:
Chasseur Patate wrote:
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

The point was: What difference does being a good team mate matter? Sorry that you were too obtuse to miss that.

You just don't like him. Nothing to do with objectivity.

What other British rider has won the TDF, a shed-load of gold medals etc. and actually has personality?

A one word answer is all that is required.

Haters will hate.

Being a whining, self important child = personality? I guess that explains why Katie Hopkins gets so many column inches then.

You're right, I don't like him. I also despise the fact that he's put on some kind of pedestal.

Decent rider, excellent track cyclist, good TT'r (when the odds favour him and he can be arsed.) Nowhere near as good as the Johnny-come-lately fans paint him though.

Funny thing is, if he was Spanish no-one would rate him this highly.

Listen to yourself. Pot kettle.

Well, looks like another of Bradley's fanboys can't cope with the truth. Bless you.

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Beefy [381 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Best British cyclist? Come on... It's the boy on the hovis advert! All those cobbles eeee grand!  4

Wiiiiiggggoooooo no 1

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Beefy [381 posts] 3 years ago
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How can anyone mention mercks in the same sentance as Brad? To the best of our knowledge Brad didn't dope.

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Beefy [381 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

How can anyone mention mercks in the same sentance as Brad? To the best of our knowledge Brad didn't dope.

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farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Chasseur Patate wrote:

Well, looks like another of Bradley's fanboys can't cope with the truth. Bless you.

So, who would you put ahead of him?'

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alotronic [574 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

Decent rider, excellent track cyclist, good TT'r (when the odds favour him and he can be arsed.) Nowhere near as good as the Johnny-come-lately fans paint him though.

I dunno about johnny come lately fans, I rode my first race at 14 and that was, err, 35 years ago. So yeah, I can say things like 'no one ever looked as good on a bike as Moser' and 'never bothered with anything smaller than a 42x21 and wooden soled sidis myself' and all manner of very well schooled 'wisdom' all day long - does that make my opinion matter more? Shouldn't. Also I am not British, so my bias/appreciation is simply that I like him because he's a 'decent rider' and entertaining. He's not the Cannibal, but then he doesn't didn't do 'pot belge' either and the game has changed since then - no one will have a career like Eddie now.

So tell me who is a good *British* rider who you think is actually better that Wiggo in the current peloton - or, let us say 'post-Lance'? There are some very very good riders (I love Stannard at the moment, and Dowsett is obviously in great form) but better than Wiggo overall? British? Across all disciplines? Male?

Anyone?

So I reckon still the best and most entertaining British rider in a while. If Eddie is an A+ I'd give Wiggo an A-, and give him extra cred in that he came from a culture in which cycling had no relevance at all - until his generation made it so.

Avatar
Plasterer's Radio [416 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
Chasseur Patate wrote:
Plasterer's Radio wrote:
Chasseur Patate wrote:
Plasterer's Radio wrote:

The point was: What difference does being a good team mate matter? Sorry that you were too obtuse to miss that.

You just don't like him. Nothing to do with objectivity.

What other British rider has won the TDF, a shed-load of gold medals etc. and actually has personality?

A one word answer is all that is required.

Haters will hate.

Being a whining, self important child = personality? I guess that explains why Katie Hopkins gets so many column inches then.

You're right, I don't like him. I also despise the fact that he's put on some kind of pedestal.

Decent rider, excellent track cyclist, good TT'r (when the odds favour him and he can be arsed.) Nowhere near as good as the Johnny-come-lately fans paint him though.

Funny thing is, if he was Spanish no-one would rate him this highly.

Listen to yourself. Pot kettle.

Well, looks like another of Bradley's fanboys can't cope with the truth. Bless you.

You are a bell-end. Listen to yourself.

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