From Paris to Eccleston… hero Wiggins back training in Lancashire hills on day after Tour triumph as he eyes Olympics glory
11:17 GMT, 23 July 2012
Bradley Wiggins was back training in the hills around his hometown of Eccleston in Lancashire today – just 24 hours after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France.
Wiggins, who was crowned champion on the Champs-Elysees after the epic three-week race, returned to the north-west to focus his training on the Olympics.
Rather than sitting back sipping champagne, Wiggins must now turn his attention to winning gold on home soil.
The cycling ace competes in the time-trial that finishes at Hampton Court Palace on August 1. He also competes in Saturday's road race, when he attempts to help sprint ace Mark Cavendish to glory.
Triumphant: Bradley Wiggins celebrates as he crosses the line in Paris
All quiet here: Wiggins is used to riding the roads around Eccleston
Wiggins will now spend time with the
British Cycling coaches in his bid to make it a perfect summer – and he
has already admitted only gold is good enough.
He said: 'If I'm 100 per cent honest,
it's gold or nothing in London now. That's the way I'm treating the
next nine days. I've set a precedent now for performances.
'I can't sit and say I'll be happy with a silver, or happy with a bronze.'
Top of the tree: Wiggins (centre) is crowned Tour de France champion after three weeks on the road
Cheers: Bradley Wiggins is congratulated by team-mate Michael Rogers after winning the Tour de France
Wiggins is level with rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave as the Brit with the most Olympic medals – six.
Down-to-earth Wiggins moved to
Eccleston after growing up in London and the surrounding slopes are
ideal for him to hone his preparations, while remaining with his wife
Cath and son Ben, 7.
In Paris, just when you thought the
British makeover of the Champs-Elysees was complete, Wiggins stepped up
on to the podium to add a finishing touch that was all his own.
Magnifique: Mark Cavendish celebrates his fourth successive win on the Champs-Elysees
Out in front: Cavendish sprints for the finish line to win his 23rd stage of the Tour de France
Perfect ending: Cavendish celebrates his fourth successive win in Paris as Wiggins leads him out (right)
Grasping a microphone that had been
thrust in his hand to replace the trophies which will for ever proclaim
him as winner of the Tour de France, the 32-year-old Londoner surveyed
the faces — half a million of them — pressed towards him from every
It seemed a daunting
task to set a bike rider and Wiggins looked to be struggling for the
words to express his joy and gratitude. He wasn’t.
‘We’re just going to draw the raffle
numbers,’ he said with a face as straight as that which had betrayed no
emotion to his rivals across the mountains and valleys of France over
the past three weeks.
could have been in a bingo hall in Wigan, near where Wiggins lives.
Instead we were on the most exclusive avenue in the world witnessing
history as Britain acclaimed its first winner of Le Tour in its 99-year
Roars of laughter broke out in pockets of the grandstands lining the cobbled avenue.
In other sections there was silence. Language was one barrier, humour a greater one.
Wiggins continued, warming to his audience.
‘Some dreams do come true. My old mother over there, her son’s just won the Tour de France. Thank you, everyone. Cheers. Have a safe journey home and don’t get too drunk.’
And they say English comics don’t travel well. It was an offbeat end to an afternoon without precedent.
Party time: Wiggins with his wife Cath (left) while fans at the England vSouth Africa cricket match celebrate
Teamwork: Bradley Wiggins in his yellow jersey with his Sky team-mates during the final stage
Unrivalled: Cavendish is honoured after winning his third stage of this year's Tour de France
Wiggins won the yellow jersey, Mark Cavendish crossed the line first, just as he had for the previous three years in Paris.
The Brits had conquered cycling and they had snaffled France’s jewel of a race.
The French Tricolore hung from the arms of every lamppost along the Champs-Elysees, but at ground level it was the Union Flag that was omnipresent.
That and the colour yellow.
Family affair: Cavendish celebrates with his daughter Delilah Grace after winning the final stage
Funny farm: Wiggins is joined by several sheep as the Tour de France comes to an end
Team Sky had replaced the blue stripe on every one of their vehicles for the day, as well as the staff T-shirts, to match the colour of the outfit Wiggins wore as the peloton swept along the avenue time and again.
Eight circuits they made. And with each passing lap a British enclave near the Arc de Triomphe bellowed its partisan approval.
Wiggins added: ‘That turn was just a sea of Brits and the noise was incredible.
British one-two: Wiggins celebrates with team-mate Chris Froome who finished second in the Tour
The end is in sight: The pelaton races towards the Eiffel Tower as the Tour de France comes to its conclusion
‘It was close to what it was like at the Olympics in Athens when I was coming into the home straight. It’s that kind of feeling. It’s phenom-enal. You couldn’t fail to hear it.’
There is only one battle on the final Sunday of the Tour — the final dash to the line.
Etiquette dictates that the man leading the race when the final stage begins will be crowned the victor later in the afternoon.
Brit pack: British fans await the finish of the final stage of this year's Tour de France
Jerseys: Tejay van Garderen (young) Wiggins, Peter Sagan, (sprinter) and Thomas Voeckler (climber)
Even if etiquette had been forgotten, Wiggins’s nearest rival was his own Sky team-mate Chris Froome three minutes back. Third-placed Vincenzo Nibali of Italy was more than six minutes down.
It would have been impossible for Nibali to have overhauled the two Britons, but how much more civilised it is to enjoy a ceremonial roll into Paris from its suburbs, to congratulate the winners of the various coloured jerseys and each one of the 153 (out of an original 198) riders who survived a 2,200-mile slog along coastal roads, through farmlands and over the fearsome peaks of the Alps and the Pyrenees.
Of the 21 stages, including the opening prologue in the Belgian city of Liege, British riders won seven — Wiggins the two time trials, Cavendish three sprints, Froome the final climb to the Planche des Belles Filles and David Millar a defiant breakaway victory.
For the thousands of Brits who had
travelled across the Channel to witness history, there was a joyous
inevitability about Cavendish’s victory, imperious as ever. But there
was even greater delight in watching Wiggins, in sun-kissed yellow, lead
him into the final turn as the peloton exited the Place de la Concorde
for the final time.
Champagne moment: Wiggins takes a drink of bubbly from his team car during the final stage
As he crossed the line, Wiggins stretched out his arms in elation. Messages of congratulations had besieged him since he confirmed victory in Saturday’s time trial in Chartres, including one from his style guru Paul Weller, lead singer of The Jam and a musical hero for the ‘Mod’ Wiggins.
‘It’s a strange sensation. Very surreal,’ Wiggins concluded.
It will continue to be so as it unfurls within him as the weeks progress.
tilt at Olympic glory awaits. So, too, for Cavendish although he may
not be a Sky rider next year, with team general manager Dave Brailsford
hinting that they will allow the Manx Missile to leave if it is in his
said: ‘We want to become the best cycling team the world’s ever seen.
It’s quite clear we will be coming back next year to try to win the race
again, hopefully to defend it with Bradley.’
An encore on the Champs-Elysees Wiggins will be writing his one-liners already.
Champion: Wiggins leads out Cavendish to win the final stage of the Tour de France
What they said about King Brad
To see a British rider and a fellow member of British Cycling win is a dream come true for me and all at British Cycling. This is a monumental day for sport in the UK. British Cycling president Brian Cookson
How amazing will it be to welcome back @bradwiggins and @MarkCavendish for #london2012 road race — perfect sporting start to the Olympics. Former Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards (@JDE66) on Twitter
@bradwiggins a real life legend, congratulations to all involved, amazing moment in British sporting history #allezwiggo Olympic sprint cycling champion Victoria Pendleton (@v_pendleton) on Twitter
This is a great British story and less than a week away from the Olympics this will inevitably give the Team GB cycling squad 6a lift. Team Sky chairman Robert Tansey
The perfect finish! Delighted for @MarkCavendish great win. What a team Sky are. And we all bow down before @bradwiggins on such a win! Former England rugby player Will Carling
(@will_carling) on Twitter
As a nod to the champagne ritual of the last day in Paris Wiggo should toast team and fellow riders with a pint of best. #TdF #SirBrad Former Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent (@matthewcpinsent) on Twitter
Congrats to @bradwiggins on his historic Tour de France victory. Very impressive. Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) on Twitter