“It would be bigger in my eyes at this moment,” said Bradley Wiggins when asked to compare a possible win in Paris-Roubaix with victory in the 2012 Tour de France, reports The Telegraph. However, he claims that simply being in amongst the favourites at the finish would be ‘enough’ when he looks back on his career in years to come.
Speaking before the Tour of Flanders, Wiggins said that he has two ‘really fond memories’ of the 2012 Tour – winning the time trial in Chartres and leading Mark Cavendish out on the Champs Elysees. However, he seems to perceive what came afterwards as being a rather bleak period.
“I still look back and think ‘how did I win the Tour, going day to day under that pressure?’ And then that period after that, I just hated being the winner of the Tour de France, hated cycling, hated the media for asking me questions about Lance Armstrong, hated Lance Armstrong for giving Oprah that interview. And being the current winner of the Tour in that period, having to answer all the questions.
“Just not enjoying it and just being so unhappy with it all. And then obviously the Giro, and how miserable that was and then not going to the Tour that year.”
Wiggins contrasts this with the atmosphere at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, which he describes as being a ‘celebration’ of the races themselves. “I don’t recall ever being at a Roubaix where there is a big doping story and it has overshadowed the race slightly. It tends to be about the racing and there has been a great resurgence in the last few years of people becoming hooked on the history of this race.”
As such, he says Paris-Roubaix would be the perfect way to finish his time at Team Sky and the segment of his career during which road racing has been his top priority. “It wouldn’t have been the same at De Panne, the Four Days of Dunkirk or one of those races, so it’s just nice. Roubaix – come up to the velodrome and you get to do a bit of a lap of honour wherever you finish.”
Wiggins says that he particularly enjoyed his racing last year and Paris-Roubaix appears to have been a large part of that. He says he would give anything simply to find himself in the same position at the climax of this year’s race.
“That would be enough for me, to be honest. I’d love to win, don’t get me wrong. I’m not sitting here saying I’d accept ninth place, but to have a clean run through the race, no crashes – I had one wheel change last year, which wasn’t a puncture, a broken wheel in Arenberg – you know, I didn’t have any sort of mishaps, I was just there.
“I’d passed Boonen on the Carrefour de l’Arbre and I got to the end and turned right and I was there with Terpstra and all these guys. I’d quite happily retire on that corner this year. Just to be in that position again.”