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Bradley Wiggins on ambition, bluffing and the mental edge on R5 Live tonight

Tour de France hero talks the psychology of cycling in Mind of a Cyclist with Victoria Pendleton on Radio 5 live tonight

Fans of Bradley Wiggins will want to tune in to BBC Radio 5 live at 8pm today for Mind of a Cyclist, in which Wiggins tells former Great Britain team-mate Victoria Pendleton about the psychology behind his rise to the top.

In excerpts from the interview on BBC Sport, Wiggins reveals details of his early life, and his psychological strategies for dealing with racing and training.

Wiggins was ambitious even as a youngster. After misbehaving at school he was asked by his art teacher:  "What are you going to do with the rest of your life Bradley?"

"I said 'I want to wear the yellow jersey and win an Olympic gold medal' and she said 'that's crazy', because how many kids from Kilburn did that? It all sounds very poetic now but that is exactly how it happened. And here I am today.  It would make a great film."

Being ahead of the game is vital, Wiggins said. "I love the mundane part of the sport. I love the romance of doing the training.

"When I was 17, I rode from London to Rye on the south coast on Christmas Day where the family were staying at Pontins.

"They drove and I rode the 86 miles. Nan was cooking Christmas dinner. I remember thinking the World Junior Championships were the following August and none of my competitors would be doing this on Christmas day."

But despite having his own psychological tricks, Wiggins doesn't have any time for former Team Sky and British Cycling sport psychologist Steve Peters.

Wiggins said: "I never worked with Steve Peters that much because I never felt he helped me; I felt he made it more complicated. I never agreed with his chimp theory,  which has become so famous. I always thought it was a distraction from who you were as a person.

"Based on that theory, if someone had a go at you, particularly in the track environment, it was like, 'Just ignore him, it's his chimp talking'. I always had a problem with that, I was like, 'No it's not. It's Shane Sutton and he's being horrible to me!'"

Cycling emphasises the physical necessity of being fit over the need to be mentally tough and rational, Wiggins says.

"I'm fanatical about rugby league and 90% of what they focus on is the tactics and mental challenges. The fitness part is 10% - and they do that almost as a given. In cycling, it's the other way round. You just concentrate on being fit enough.

"Very little is given to the mental side of things and in preparing yourself for when you get into the arena. It has been under-played for many years.

"In the Tour de France, you can be the best rider in the world, but if you crack under the pressure mentally, the race is gone. In that race, you have to be within a couple of per cent of your best, day in, day out, for three weeks. If you're not, then it's finished."

Not only do you have to be mentally tough, you have to be able to hide how much you're hurting. "Bluffing is a massive part of the Tour de France," says Wiggins.

In the 2009 Tour, Wiggins found himself "going toe-to-toe with Lance Armstrong."

Wiggins said: "He was always talking to me on these climbs. His tactic was to talk to you as if you were his best friend. Then he'd slip the knife in your back. He was the master of that. In some ways you learn from that."

Pendleton also had her share of demons to conquer during her career, so it should be a fascinating chat between two of cycling's most complex characters.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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