Tag Archives: elysees

Bradley Wiggins admits he might not accept knighthood

Sir Bradley I'm not sure I could accept a knighthood, admits Wiggins

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UPDATED:

09:00 GMT, 5 November 2012

Bradley Wiggins has cast doubt over whether he would accept a knighthood after his stunning successes in the Tour de France and London 2012 Olympics.

The 32-year-old won the famous race in France this summer before winning gold in the time trial on the streets of the capital.

He has been widely tipped to follow in the footsteps of fellow cyclist Chris Hoy and receive the ultimate honour from the Queen but Wiggins has admitted he struggles with status.

Best of British: Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France and Olympic gold

Best of British: Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France and Olympic gold

Here Wiggo again…

Wiggins believes he is far from finished with the sport and is already looking ahead to his next challenge.

'I’ve already started training for next year because it is about doing it all over again,' he said.

'I think initially you think there is nothing else to do. In a sporting sense I’m 32 now and I went from the Champs-Elysees in Paris and winning the Tour de France to winning the Olympic time-trial in London. That is never going to happen to anyone again, perhaps in my lifetime.

'I still don’t think that it’s fully sunk in to be honest how incredible those two weeks at the Olympics were. It was probably the best time of my life in terms of a sporting sense.

'From now on it’s just trying to achieve other things – things that I hold close to my heart like Paris-Roubaix, the Giro d’Italia or maybe even trying to win the Tour again.

'It’s things I want to do and not what others (want me to do) because that could be dangerous if you get drawn into that.'

In his autobiography, My Time, serialised in the Guardian, he said: 'During the Games, there was speculation about whether I might end up with a knighthood in the same way that Sir Chris Hoy did after his great year. People asked me about it, so I did wonder whether I would accept it if it were to come my way.

'The point is that I can never see myself being given a title like Sir Bradley Wiggins. I have never considered myself above anybody else. I have always struggled with hierarchy and status. I don't know what it is – maybe just my upbringing, the area I'm from – but I'm quite happy to play second fiddle.

'I understand my physical capabilities sometimes give me status but, when it's all done and dusted, I struggle with that kind of thing. It's not what happens to kids from Kilburn.'

Wiggins did however admit that he could be forced to accept a knighthood in memory of his grandad.

'My late grandad George was the father figure, the role model in my young life, from the day when my mother Linda and I moved in to my nan and grandad's flat in Kilburn after my father Gary had walked out on us,' he added. 'After the Games, I remember saying to my nan: “So if I get offered a knighthood or whatever, what do you reckon George would make of it if I turned it down”

'She came back, quick as a flash: “He would never have spoken to you again.”

'So if it comes my way, I just might have to take it.'

Meanwhile, the throne Wiggins sat on following his London triumph will be sold at Sotheby's in New Bond Street on Monday with an estimate of 10,000-15,000.

Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins

Under the hammer: The throne Wiggins sat on in London will go up for sale

P.S. Fame has forced me to ditch my sunburns

Bradley Wiggins became almost as famous for his sideburns as he did his sporting success this summer but he has stunned his fans by shaving them off.

The Brit admitted he was often mobbed due to his facial hair but was growing tired of the attention.

'They
were too recognisable — it was getting a bit much. Now I can put on a
hat and no one knows who I am,' he is quoted as saying in The Sun.

New look: Wiggins has shaved his sideburns (right) to avoid fans' attention

New look: Wiggins has shaved his sideburns (right) to avoid fans' attention

Bradley Wiggins turns back on second Tour de France title to support Chris Froome

Wiggins stuns fans by turning back on Tour de France defence to support Froome after nightmare route is unveiled

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UPDATED:

12:11 GMT, 24 October 2012

Reigning champion Bradley Wiggins has turned his back on a second Tour de France title after agreeing to support Chris Froome's bid for glory.

The move marks a role reversal for the Team Sky team-mates after Froome played a key part in Wiggins' historic victory in July.

Look says it all: Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome watch the 2013 route presentation

Look says it all: Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome watch the 2013 route presentation

Rivals: Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins

Rivals: Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins has set his sights on winning the Giro d’Italia next year as he attempts to secure all three Grand Tour titles.

Speaking at Wednesday's 2013 route announcement, Wiggins said: 'It's more than likely I'll be there in a helping capacity. For me it was about winning one Tour. I want to win the Giro.'

The 32-year-old became the first
Briton to win the Tour this summer when he beat Froome to the yellow jersey.

This year's race suited Wiggins'
time-trial prowess but next year's event, which starts for the first
time in Corsica, is apparently more mountainous which would not favour
the Briton but instead the likes of Alberto Contador.

Enlarge

The 2013 Tour de France route

The 2013 Tour de France route

the 2013 cycling classic Tour de France route

The Tour – the first since lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles – will end on the Champs-Elysees at night, organisers confirmed.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme revealed a 3,360-kilometre, 21-stage route, which takes place entirely in France, beginning on Corsica on June 21 and finishing under floodlights on the most famous boulevard in Paris on July 21.

Organisers made a decision to shorten
the combined length of the race's two individual time trials in part as
a response to the domination in this year's tour by champion Wiggins.

The 65 kilometers (40 miles) of time
trials split evenly between the 11th and 17th stages is almost 40
kilometers (25 miles) less than in the 2012 Tour, which could play into
Olympic time trial champion Wiggins' decision to focus instead on the
Giro d'Italia.

The first individual time trail on July 10 finishes against the backdrop of the Mont Saint-Michel monestary.

Line up: (l to r) Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Tejay van Garderen, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador

The contenders: (l to r) Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Tejay van Garderen, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador

Main man: Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme

Main man: Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme

Organisers have given sprinters like Mark Cavendish a gift – the June 29 stage finish in Bastia is the first time since 1966 that a sprinter can hope to wear the yellow jersey after the first stage, Prudhomme said.

The traditional Bastille Day stage on July 14 is the race's longest at 242 kilometers (150 miles), ending with the 20.8-kilometer (13-mile) ascent of Mont Ventoux, one of cycling's most mythical climbs.

In another first for the race, which has only stopped for the two world wars since the first Tour in 1903, riders will begin the final stage on July 21 inside the grounds of the Versailles Palace. With the sprawling 17th-century chateau as a backdrop to the race start, 'It's going to be a knockout,' Prudhomme said.

The last stage will start later in the day than traditionally and timed for a finish at about 9 p.m., while there is still enough light to ensure riders' safety, Prudhomme said.

'We wanted the finish of the 100th Tour winner to be unique,' Prudhomme said.

In another change to tradition, the eight laps of the Champs Elysees will send riders all the way around the giant Arc de Triomphe arch at the top of the grand avenue, rather than just passing in front of it as in past years.

Armstrong finished on the top of the podium in a record seven Tours from 1999 to 2005 but was subject to a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation and stripped of his titles and banned for life.

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, ratified the sanctions on Monday.

Tour de France 2013: Bradley Wiggins left with a mountain to climb

Wiggins left with a mountain to climb with Tour to unveil high-altitude route for centenary

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 23 October 2012

With the credibility of cycling now in tatters, this year’s Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins could be forgiven if he decides not to defend the yellow jersey.

And when the mountainous route of next year’s race is unveiled in Paris, he may not want to anyway.

Wiggins won the 2012 race over a terrain that suited his time-trialling pre-eminence and limited his exposure to the high-altitude finishes that trouble him.

For next year’s 100th Tour, the organisers have devised a course which offers little respite from mountains.

Tall order: The 2013 Tour does not suit Bradley Wiggins

Tall order: The 2013 Tour does not suit Bradley Wiggins

The legendary peaks of Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez will feature in a handful of summit finishes which mark the 2013 Tour as a race for climbers like Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Wiggins’s Sky team-mate Chris Froome.

Alpe d’Huez will be climbed twice on the same stage while the final stage on the Champs-Elysees in Paris will be held at night under floodlights.

While two individual time trials will entice Wiggins to compete, one of them will be over the hilly terrain of the Alpes-Maritimes, meaning that he may give serious thought to the advice of Shane Sutton, his mentor at Team Sky, to skip the Tour next year and concentrate instead on the Giro d’Italia in May and the Vuelta a Espana in September.

The unveiling of the route is supposed to be a celebration of the centenary Tour. Instead, Wiggins and race director Christian Prudhomme will be besieged by questions about Lance Armstrong, doping, cheating and cycling’s credibility.

Unwanted attention: Lance Armstrong's shadow looms large over the Tour

Unwanted attention: Lance Armstrong's shadow looms large over the Tour

The Tour is now a race without a recent past after Armstrong was stripped on Monday of his seven Tour triumphs beginning in 1999.

Add in the retrospective expunging of the names of Floyd Landis in 2006 and Contador in 2010 and the inevitable tarnishing of Contador’s wins in 2007 and 2009, and only Wiggins, Carlos Sastre in 2008 and Cadel Evans in 2011 can be considered clean winners in the past 14 Tours.

Even Armstrong is no longer publicly declaring himself a seven-time Tour champion after changing his Twitter profile to reflect being stripped of his Tour success by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

On Monday, Armstrong’s profile read: ‘Father of 5 amazing kids, 7-time Tour de France winner, full time cancer fighter, part time triathlete.’

/10/23/article-0-15A12BF0000005DC-272_468x312.jpg” width=”468″ height=”312″ alt=”Calls to resign: Pat McQuaid is under pressure” class=”blkBorder” />

Calls to resign: Pat McQuaid is under pressure

‘UCI clearly have to take the blinkers off, look at the past, examine people who are there, ask themselves the questions, “Are those same people still in the sport and can they proceed forward with those people remaining”’

Tyler Hamilton, a former US Postal team-mate of Armstrong retrospectively stripped of his 2004 Olympic time trial gold medal for doping, said: ‘Pat McQuaid’s comments expose the hypocrisy of his leadership. He has no place in cycling.’

Bradley Wiggins meets Wigan Warriors star Sam Tomkins

'Take it day-by-day and one match at a time' – Wiggo's sage advice for Wigan ahead of Super League play-off showdowns

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UPDATED:

15:52 GMT, 7 September 2012

Their respective sports are poles apart, but look a
little closer and Bradley Wiggins and Sam Tomkins actually have a lot in
common.

They’ve both understand the motivation required to thrive
in professional sport, both appreciate the importance of the team unit and, as
a result, they have both enjoyed hugely successful years.

We’ve come to learn pretty much everything about Wiggins
in this glorious summer of British sporting achievement – he is the sharply
dressed, Mod-inspired, guitar strumming, iron legged, Tour de France and
Olympic champion bringing big sideburns back into fashion.

Winners on wheels: Bradley Wiggins and Sam Tomkins go for a spin on their bikes

Winners on wheels: Bradley Wiggins and Sam Tomkins go for a spin on their bikes

But one thing often overlooked is that ‘Wiggo’ is also a
devotee of rugby league and, in particular, Wigan Warriors. He lives in
Eccleston, just up the road from the Lancashire hotbed of the game and has followed the team for many years.

His pal Tomkins probably feels at the moment the same as Wiggins did
as he sipped champagne on the Champs-Elysees after his unprecedented Tour
victory – satisfied, but knowing more was yet to come.

For Tomkins is likely to feature in the Super League
Dream Team and is a contender for the prestigious Man of Steel award.

And his
club are already assured the league leaders’ shield as they prepare to take on
bitter rivals St Helens in the final regular season game on Friday night.

But in the same way Wiggins looked forward to the
Olympics, Tomkins and his teammates now must look to take their winning momentum
into the play-offs.

Tea and talk about trophies: Tomkins and Wiggins are interviewed by Sky Sports pundit Brian Carney

Tea and talk about trophies: Tomkins and Wiggins are interviewed by Sky Sports pundit Brian Carney

In the build-up to the match at the DW Stadium, which
Wiggins will undoubtedly be keeping an eye on, the pair spoke to Sky Sports
pundit Brian Carney about their secrets for success.

Reflecting on his summer of success, Wiggins said: ‘For
me it certainly hasn’t sunk in yet. You do all of this training to be
successful and you don’t make plans for post success.

‘You expect it to feel different but you wake up the next
day feeling exactly the same.

‘There’s a huge amount of relief and satisfaction that
you have achieved what you have been training for, for however many months, but
then you go out and see people’s reaction to you – that changes, and that’s the
biggest thing you notice. How much your performances have inspired people.

‘Certainly for me, I left home six or seven weeks ago and
now everywhere I seem to go someone wants a photo… that’s when it starts to
sink in just what you have achieved really.’

On your bike! Carney, Wiggins and Tomkins explore the Lancashire scenery

On your bike! Carney, Wiggins and Tomkins explore the Lancashire scenery

Both athletes agree that it takes a vast amount of mental
strength to bounce back from previous disappointments and continue working
towards your ambitions.

Tomkins puts it succinctly: ‘Motivation for us is
speaking about what happens at this end of the year – trophies and success.’

Wiggins adds: ‘Well for me, the last couple of years it
has all been about the Tour de France really and going back year after year and
having failure and disappointments, crashing out last year and that’s been the
things that’s driven me.

‘The belief that I could do it if I got it right. That’s
what makes it easier to get up every day, especially on those tough mornings.’

Tomkins also recognises the pain of the cold winter
training sessions: ‘Our pre-season starts similar to Bradley, mid-November, we’ll
really get into it. There’s some mornings when you don’t feel like getting out
of bed and out on that field, but you have 25, 30 blokes who are doing the same
as well.’

Pedal to the medals: Tomkins and Wiggins hit the road on their bikes

Pedal to the medals: Tomkins and Wiggins hit the road on their bikes

In the same way, Wiggins acknowledges that he’s never
alone in his preparations: ‘No matter how strong you are individually as a bike
rider, you’re nothing without that team behind you.

‘Not just the riders, everyone – the backroom staff and
everyone takes you through a season. Those guys take the strain for you for 6-7
hours sometimes and it’s those days that at the end when I get to finish it
off, I suppose you’re the lucky one in the end.

‘You’re nothing without a team behind you. Cycling is a
team sport and I wouldn’t have had anything like the success I’ve had without
those days.’

And as much as he’d like to believe that his favourite
team Wigan have one hand on the Super League trophy, Wiggins knows from
personal experience that nothing can be taken for granted.

He said: ‘It’s about taking it day-by-day and never
really looking too far ahead. Something like the Tour de France is so vast when
you start it – three weeks long – that it’s hard not to think about Paris.

Winning wisdom: Wiggins advised Wigan not to think too far ahead as they negotiate the Super League play-offs

Winning wisdom: Wiggins advised Wigan not to think too far ahead as they negotiate the Super League play-offs

‘But you’ll trip up along the way if you don’t look at
small stages and I think that’s the same with the rugby guys – they look one
match at a time because there’s no point looking to the Grand Final when you’ve
got two matches ahead of you.

‘It’s the same with cycling – you can’t think of two days’
time because you don’t know what’s going to happen the next day. Treat every
day as if it’s the last day of the Tour de France.’

Of course, Tomkins isn’t getting ahead of himself: ‘We
can’t focus too much on the Grand Final. If you trip up now thinking about
something later on, you’re not going to get to that Grand Final!’

You can see more of the interview in the build-up to live coverage of Wigan Warriors v St Helens on Sky Sports 3 HD from 7.30pm tonight.

Mark Cavendish set to leave Sky

Cavendish plans his breakaway from Sky after growing tired of playing support role

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 18 August 2012

Mark Cavendish, a key part of Team Sky’s Tour de France triumph with Bradley Wiggins, is to quit the British outfit after just one year.

Cavendish, the current world road race champion and the 2011 Tour de France green jersey winner, will hold talks with Sky’s general manager, Dave Brailsford, next week to extricate himself from the remaining two-and-a-half years of his 1.5million-a-year contract.

Sky will not oppose the breakaway by 27-year-old Cavendish, who is seeking an agreement that he can begin negotiations with other teams. As many as six outfits have expressed an interest in taking him on.

Conflict of interest: Team Sky's Mark Cavendish (left) and Bradley Wiggins

Conflict of interest: Team Sky's Mark Cavendish (left) and Bradley Wiggins

Sky’s dream was to have Wiggins, the first Briton to win the Tour de France, and Cavendish sharing the spotlight but, despite the Manxman winning another three Tour stages last month to become the fourth-highest stage winner on 23, both he and Sky realise that sharing team efforts in an attempt to win yellow and green jerseys has proved impossible.

While Wiggins enjoyed a total team effort on his way to making British sporting history, Cavendish, often little more than a water collector for his team-mates, had to make do with scraps of help, although his final stage win on the Champs Elysees was due in good part to the efforts of his colleagues.

However, the experience has left the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year frustrated and disillusioned and he yearns to return to a team who throw all their energies behind him, as was the case with HTC-Highroad during his green jersey-winning Tour last year.

Pain: Cavendish at the Olympics

Pain: Cavendish at the Olympics

His desire to leave has been fuelled by the realisation that their first aim next year will be another Tour de France win, either through Wiggins or runner-up Chris Froome, who is team leader at the Vuelta a Espana, which started yesterday, and who is seen as a strong contender to win the centenary staging of the Tour.

If Cavendish stayed at Sky, he would have to win sprint stages virtually on his own and then sit back and watch Wiggins and Froome go for yellow.
Officially, all parties concerned say Cavendish is still a Team Sky rider and this remains the case until he and Brailsford meet next week, but heading the queue for his signature are BMC, who helped Cadel Evans win the Tour de France last year.

The Australian was team leader again last month but faded to seventh place in his defence of the yellow jersey and appears to be on his way out. BMC would be changing tack from yellow to green jersey but are keen to team Cavendish with the Belgian, Philippe Gilbert.

Although Liquigas, Rabobank and Lampre have also made inquiries, BMC’s main competition for Cavendish will come from Katusha, the Russian team with oligarch millions behind them, and Omega Pharma Quickstep.

Negotiations are likely to be resolved quickly, with Cavendish, currently preparing for next week’s Tour of Denmark, followed by the Tour of Britain, looking to defend his world title in the Netherlands in five weeks’ time.

Sealed with a kiss: Cavendish teamed up with Jake Humphrey on the BBC

Sealed with a kiss: Cavendish teamed up with Jake Humphrey on the BBC

Brailsford, meanwhile, has spoken of his desire to turn Team Sky into one of the biggest sporting names in the world.

‘I want to build one of the best sports teams in the world, if not the best,’ said the Welshman, ‘and I’m talking all sports. What are the criteria in becoming a Barcelona or a Real Madrid, a New Zealand All Blacks, a Ferrari, an LA Lakers and so on How do the very best go about their business What do they all have in common

‘First and foremost, it means results. Yes, we’ve won the Tour and did it ahead of schedule, but we need to win it again and again. We believe we have the tools and the riders. But it’s also to do with our attitudinal approach to everything connected to us.

‘We want to become the model sports team, a point of reference for not just cycling but world sport to follow in terms of innovation, technology, team building and pushing the boundaries.’

Bradley Wiggins wants to win Olympic gold

I have tasted glory in yellow, now I want gold, roars Tour de France hero Wiggins

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 22 July 2012

Bradley Wiggins was crowned the first British winner of the Tour de France on a Champs-Elysees bedecked in Union Flags and immediately turned his thoughts to winning Olympic gold.

Wiggins, who has three gold medals from previous Games, said: ‘If I’m 100 per cent honest, it’s gold or nothing in London now, really. That’s the way I’m treating the next nine days. I can’t sit here and say I’ll be happy with a silver or happy with a bronze.

‘That’s why I’m flying back this evening. That’s why I’ll be on the bike tomorrow [Monday] morning.

Brilliant Brit: Bradley Wiggins crosses the line to win the Tour de France

Brilliant Brit: Bradley Wiggins crosses the line to win the Tour de France

‘It’s a separate thing. As it stands the icing is on the cake. Coming off the back of this, it would add the hundreds and thousands on top.

‘My performance in yesterday’s time trial and how I felt, I was already thinking about the Olympics. I’ve made so many improvements in my time trialling… it’s realistic to think I can win gold now.’

Champagne moment: Wiggins celebrates his victory in Paris

Champagne moment: Wiggins celebrates his victory in Paris

In Paris, Mark Cavendish raced home for a fourth successive victory on the Champs-Elysees, securing his 23rd stage victory in the Tour, elevating him above seven-time winner Lance Armstrong and into fourth place alone in the all-time list.

He said: ‘It’s such a special moment. It means so much to come here, wearing the world champion’s jersey, doing what we’re doing for British cycling, being part of a team that’s just won the Tour de France.’

Bumble at the Test: Take a bow, Amla. You"ve earned it!

Bumble at the Test: Take a bow, Amla. You've earned it!

By
David Lloyd

PUBLISHED:

21:05 GMT, 22 July 2012

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UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 22 July 2012

When Hashim Amla started out in Test
cricket, they called him a walking wicket. You’d either hit him on the
head or his pads — and he didn’t much like either. But he’s worked so
hard on his batting, and look at him now: a world-class player. Take a
bow!

Majestic: Hashim Amla's 331 not out is the highest ever score by a South African

Majestic: Hashim Amla's 331 not out is the highest ever score by a South African

Tweet and sour

England ended up looking devoid of all
ideas due to the excellence of South Africa’s batting. The tweeters
were getting stuck into England. Sorry, guys — that’s just the way it
is. And the beauty of any sport is that you’ve got to come back
stronger, and accept when the opposition are better.

Cab ranks as best

London cabbies are the best in the
world. I was heading down to Soho on Saturday night for a drink in the
French House, and chatted with the driver all the way. It was an 11
fare. I offered 12. He said: ‘Give us a tenner. I’ve enjoyed talking to
you.’ Probably thought I was Geoff Boycott.

Not Brad at all!

The best moment for British sport at The Oval on Sunday came when the Bradley Wiggins lookalikes in the crowd accepted a standing ovation on behalf of the real bloke, who’d won the Tour de France. Imagine a lad who lives in Lancashire sipping champagne up the Champs-Elysees. He’d have been better off up Blackpool Tower.

Yellow fever: Supporters celebrate Bradly Wiggins's victory

Yellow fever: Supporters celebrate Bradly Wiggins's victory

A ton of class

By the way, in all this Amla euphoria I almost overlooked the fact that Jacques Kallis scored 182 not out. It was business as usual — he’s open all hours, this bloke. Could anyone else in world cricket score that many without you noticing he was there I suspect not.

A fine welcome

The Olympics are round the corner, and I have only one piece of advice for you: keep out of London. You get fined 130 for going in the wrong lane! Only VIPs, diplomats, politicians and third-rate celebs are allowed in. Book a week in Slough — it’s the only solution.

Annoying Aussie

Ended up on one of those boat bars on the Thames the other night, and got chatting to a young Australian lady. She proceeded to tell me that Englishmen were boring, and how she preferred Poles. London was dull, she said. And the weather’s terrible. To think they have the nerve to call us Pommies whingers!

Bradley Wiggins is Britain"s best athlete ever Martin Samuel

Bradley is simply our best… EVER!

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UPDATED:

01:06 GMT, 23 July 2012

Ever. It certainly is a big word.
Just the two syllables but huge in sport. Hugely misused, too. The best
ever, the first ever. That last word is superfluous. We mean the best,
we mean the first. Yet when Bradley Wiggins made his way up the
Champs-Elysees, each pumping limb its own little revolution,
ever has never sounded more appropriate.

Bradley Wiggins is the first British
winner of the Tour de France. Ever. Bradley Wiggins is the greatest
British cyclist. Ever. Bradley Wiggins may well be the finest British
sportsman. Ever.

These are incredibly unlikely words to
be writing. The sentences feel as if they should end, not with mundane
little full stops or even a bold exclamation mark, but punctuation of
their own. A symbol that expresses our collective surprise, pronounced
with the same breathy wonder as an open-mouthed WOW.

Champagne moment: Bradley Wiggins tastes victory on the Champs-Elysees

Champagne moment: Bradley Wiggins tastes victory on the Champs-Elysees

We get so used to the tumbling of
records, the shifting of milestones in sport, that when a genuine
jaw-dropping accomplishment comes along, we are by comparison strangely
unmoved. We are so used to Super Sundays and matches of the century and
casual hyperbole — ‘Could this be another Duel in the Sun’ asked a
quivering voice on 5 Live on Friday night, comparing the epic meeting of
Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson at Turnberry, in 1977, with Brandt
Snedeker versus Adam Scott — that when Wiggins scorches through virgin
territory for a British rider, words almost fail us.

This is the 99th edition of the Tour de France, yet there has been no winner quite like Le Gentleman.

Cynics snipe that this is not a
vintage year for the Tour but Wiggins is most certainly a rider of
vintage potential. He is a three-time Olympic champion in the
velodrome who has converted that excellence to mountainous, cross-country terrains, road racing and explosive time trials.

The greats of the sport such as
Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Wiggins’s boyhood poster hero Miguel
Indurain were all outstanding track cyclists, too, but none emulated
Wiggins’s success in, for instance, the individual pursuit. This is
renaissance work, a movement across cycling’s cultures. Wiggins needs
multiple Tour wins to be placed among the greatest names of the event,
but is he among the greats of the sport For sure.

Fans' favourite: Supporters clamber to offer their best wishes to Wiggins

Fans' favourite: Supporters clamber to offer their best wishes to Wiggins

His is an achievement that spans
centuries and cannot be attributed to mere advances in training or
technology. The first Tour de France was held in 1903 and the first
British entrants rode in 1937. Since 1956, there have been only two
Tours that have not contained a British presence. Some were lone riders,
operating without the protection of a team, but it is not as if
Wiggins is the first winner from these shores because no other blighter
was interested.

Nor is he winning an event in its
infancy. This is not like football where the Premier League and
Champions League have become so powerful, it is as if history started
just 20 years ago.

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Standards in other sports have been
skewed by advances in travel and technology. Cricketers play more
matches and therefore amass more runs, science — legal and not — has
invaded the running track and swimming pool. And the velodrome,
obviously.

Nobody would claim Wiggins’s triumph
comes without technical support and team orders, or that professional
cycling in the 21st century is not vastly different to the sport pursued
by Maurice Garin, winner of the first Tour in 1903. Yet there remains
purity in Wiggins’s achievement. There have been 99 editions of the Tour
and 56 of them have contained British riders, and he is the first to
the podium.

And purity is not a word that has been greatly associated with road cycling for several decades now. Yet as much as one can ever know with complete certainty, Wiggins is straight. More than this, in a sport tainted by nefarious instincts, he has earned the nickname Le Gentleman because of his courteous conduct in letting the riders reassemble before starting again, when the race was disrupted by tacks thrown in the road.

So, taking it all into consideration, this is one of the greatest achievements in British sport, if not its summit. Its uniqueness, the making of history, the sheer physicality of the challenge, the decency of the champion, puts Wiggins up there.

Head and shoulders above: Wiggins is hoisted aloft by fellow Team Sky members

Head and shoulders above: Wiggins is hoisted aloft by fellow Team Sky members

Sir Chris Hoy placed him higher even than Sir Steve Redgrave, and he may have a case. Put it like this: if Danny Boyle was reshooting his finale for the Olympic ceremony right now, so that Wiggins rode up a ramp to light the flame, it would not be his worst day’s work.

All eyes were on Andy Murray at Wimbledon on July 8 but even had he beaten Roger Federer in the men’s singles final, it could be argued that this landmark would be eclipsed by Wiggins now. Even British tennis has Fred Perry as a distant male role model.

Wiggins has no-one. No inspirational figure, no individual to emulate, not even his cyclist father considering their fractured relationship. He was part of a team on Tour, yet has very much travelled alone: and his journey did not start in Liege, Belgium, on June 30. It began in Kilburn.

Wiggins was born in Ghent, Belgium, but raised in north London. This is where he has much in common with Murray. For just as a man does not rally his way to Centre Court from Dunblane, Scotland, he does not cycle to the Champs-Elysees from London W9 at the point where Kilburn High Road becomes Maida Vale.

Like Murray, Wiggins must have been phenomenally driven, brutally single-minded and self-sacrificing. There are nine mountain stages in the 2012 Tour. For those that are unfamiliar with Kilburn High Road, crampons are not required.

A moment to savour: Wiggins stands top of the podium, ahead of team-mate Chris Froome (left) and Vincenzo Nibali

A moment to savour: Wiggins stands top of the podium, ahead of team-mate Chris Froome (left) and Vincenzo Nibali

Wiggins’s acceptance as a Tour cyclist of substance finds its truest expression in the ‘Wiggo le Froggy’ headline to be found in L’Equipe this weekend. They have adopted him, just as Ellen MacArthur was a household name across La Manche long before she was lauded in Britain.

The French, steeped in cycling history in a way we simply are not, know the journey Wiggins has undertaken to this point. They see beyond the Tour’s darkness. It is still too new for us. To the average bloke from Kilburn — one that did not idolise Indurain as his mates did Gary Lineker — the Tour means drugs and dishonour. On the continent, they understand that beyond the scandal are some quite outstanding individuals — and that Britain has one; more than one, in fact, considering Wiggins’s team-mates at Team Sky include Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome. So set aside the cynical caveats. The Tour has not been 98 years of sheer brilliance and then that time the British bloke won it. ‘I’m not some s*** rider who has come from nowhere,’ snapped Wiggins in response to a question about his pedigree.

He is not on stabilisers here. There will have been stronger fields, but weaker too, in almost a century of competition. Maybe this is not a peak Tour but it was not the greatest Australian cricket team that failed to regain the Ashes on home soil in 2011, and the Brazilian football team of 1970 were considerably superior to the Brazil of 1966. A man can only beat that day’s opponent. Even if it was just Wiggins versus Froome versus Cavendish it would still be some race to win.

As for drugs, Wiggins cannot be held responsible for the fact others have cheated. Dave Brailsford, Team Sky’s general manager, acknowledged there is a reputational risk in his team’s continued employment of Geert Leinders, the doctor used by Rabobank when the Dutch team were embroiled in a doping scandal between 2007 and 2009.

Well-oiled machine: Wiggins spearheaded Team Sky's ruthless assault on the Tour title

Well-oiled machine: Wiggins spearheaded Team Sky's ruthless assault on the Tour title

Yet he also said he would stake his life on Team Sky being honest. So would the majority of people. Leinders’s future with the team requires examination, but it is Wiggins’s misfortune to be clean in a dirty sport. Considering cycling’s recent history the questions are understandable, but so is Wiggins’s frustration that he cannot enjoy his moment without them.

Still, as he powered along the Champs-Elysees yesterday, he had every right to embrace a unique outpouring of goodwill and admiration for a British rider in what has remained, until now, a resolutely foreign environment. Wiggins was the best road cyclist of 2012 and in one corner of the globe, at least, he was simply the best ever.

And if that is tautological, who cares For once it was also, without need for hyperbole or exaggeration, a pure truth.

FA mystery over Terry
FA court: John Terry

FA court: John Terry

No direction to a jury has been clearer than all the instruction given
to the Football Association since John Terry was found not guilty of a
racially aggravated public order offence at Westminster Magistrates
Court 10 days ago.

It is not enough for Terry to be charged. He must be
found guilty. And no doubt he will, because here is the good news: an FA
court does not require the same pesky burden of proof as a chief
magistrate.

To brand a man a racist requires only a balance of
probability, according to the FA. So Garth Crooks, Lord Ouseley, the
sages of Twitter, the opinion formers, the pressure groups, all will be
highly hopeful of securing the justice so cruelly denied by Howard
Riddle and his outdated ideas about a case needing to be proven.

Terry did not swing in a proper court, so now he will be tried in one
with less exacting standards. This is considered a positive
development in many liberal quarters, although heaven knows why.

Why Carroll must go

Andy Carroll should leave Liverpool. If he had made a quicker or more significant impression following his 35million transfer from Newcastle United, the manager who signed him, Kenny Dalglish, might still be in a job.

But he didn’t, and he isn’t.

In Dalglish’s place is Brendan Rodgers, who has made it plain that Carroll is for sale. Rejecting loan moves is no sign of faith: that simply means Rodgers wants the money to fund team building, rather than just a wage off the roster. Carroll should now take the hint. His big move failed. The new manager no longer plays to his strengths and if he stays he will be a bit-part presence, a battering ram brought on for emergencies only. It is no way to spend his peak years as a player — or further his infant career with England.

And Carroll has good options. If he says he is open to a permanent move, there will be significant competition, in England and abroad. Carroll may not wish to give up on Anfield this easily, but he is only delaying the inevitable if Rodgers remains in charge. In a year, he may be begging to leave: go now and make a fresh start.

Heed the signs: Andy Carroll must move on from Liverpool - or stagnate

Heed the signs: Andy Carroll must move on from Liverpool – or stagnate

Stop doctoring the Plastic Brit debate

Each week, writers at The Guardian must clasp their hands in thanks for the Plastic Brit debate. What else would they have to put in Yamile Aldama’s column otherwise Five weeks of shoulder injury updates That wouldn’t sell many papers (not that much of what appears in its pages does, mind you).

Anyway, last week Aldama — who has competed for Cuba, via Sudan, and now Great Britain handily in time for a home Olympics — devoted an entire piece to the issue of nationality. And this is how she challenged her critics.

Stating her case: Yamile Aldama

Stating her case: Yamile Aldama

‘Imagine if I was one of the top 10 heart surgeons in the world — better than anyone in Britain — would these same people be happy for me to operate on their children Or would they insist on a British surgeon who is not as good’

Well, I can certainly answer that one. The doctor that identified the heart defect in my son Robert was, I believe, British-Asian. We didn’t discuss his specific ancestry because when they think a three-day-old boy has been born with his four chambers reversed, where we all come from is less important than where this baby may be going. The paediatric specialist who then identified the condition correctly as acute pulmonary stenosis — the pulmonary valve that transfers blood to the lungs was more than 90 per cent closed — was Dr Hla. Top man Dr Hla. I think he is from the Far East, but again we have never pinpointed locations as it doesn’t seem vital.

As for the surgeon who performed a balloon dilation on Robert’s valve at five days old — and then again after three months allowing him to live a healthy, happy and sporty life — that was Professor Andrew Redington. He is British but works in Toronto now. I doubt if they call him a Plastic Canadian, though: because heart surgery is not a competitive international sport.

Once Professor Redington had finished operating on Robert, he did not wrap himself in a Union Flag and do a lap of the theatre for patriotic onlookers. He probably doesn’t do that with the Maple Leaf at the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto, either. He did not get a newspaper column on the back of competing for Britain and his public profile has never been defined by representing his country at surgery. One might say his nationality, like that of Dr Hla, is entirely irrelevant to his job. This makes him different to international athletes and to even draw the comparison is, frankly, ludicrous.

The Plastic Brit debate is sport specific. Aldama needs to get that shoulder fixed before glibly appropriating the complex world of paediatric cardiology.

RVP to fly the nest

Arsenal want 30million for Robin van Persie but will no doubt sell
anyway if they do not get it.

The moment RVP stayed home from the club
tour of Asia, he was as good as gone; it now only depends on whether
Arsenal can persuade the Manchester clubs to enter a bidding war.

Even
if they do not, Van Persie will depart: a club do not remove a player
from their pre-season preparations if they believe there is any chance
he will kick a ball for them on August 18.

Bradley Wiggins wins Tour de France as Mark Cavendish wins stage

Wiggins secures historic Tour de France triumph as Cavendish wins final stage

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UPDATED:

16:28 GMT, 22 July 2012

Bradley Wiggins has become the first British Tour de France champion – and celebrated his success by leading Mark Cavendish to victory in Paris.

Wiggins completed his 13th day in the yellow jersey and the 99th Tour in first place, three minutes 21 seconds ahead of Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, who became the second Briton, after his team-mate, on the podium in the history of the race.

Not content with his personal success, Wiggins played an integral role as world champion Cavendish won the 120-kilometre 20th stage from Rambouillet, sealing victory on the Champs-Elysees for a fourth consecutive year.

Triumphant: Bradley Wiggins celebrates as he crosses the line in Paris

Triumphant: Bradley Wiggins celebrates as he crosses the line in Paris

Top of the tree: Wiggins (centre) is crowned Tour de France champion after three weeks on the road

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

Cheers: Bradley Wiggins is congratulated by team-mate Michael Rogers after winning the Tour de France

It was the seventh British stage success of the 2012 Tour, with Cavendish finishing with three wins, Wiggins with two, Froome with one and David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) one.

All four Britons, together with Ian Stannard, are due to combine on Saturday in a bid to help Cavendish win Olympic gold in the 250km road race on the opening day of London 2012.

Cavendish has won on the French capital's most famous boulevard in each of the Tours he has completed – in 2009, 2010, 2011 and now in 2012.

Magnifique: Mark Cavendish celebrates his fourth successive win on the Champs-Elysees

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

Out in front: Cavendish sprints for the finish line to win his 23rd stage of the Tour de France

Mark Cavendish celebrates

Bradley Wiggins of Britain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey is followed by teammate Mark Cavendish

Perfect ending: Cavendish celebrates his fourth successive win in Paris as Wiggins leads him out (right)

The 27-year-old from the Isle of Man, who also won stages two and 18, now has 23 Tour stage wins, moving above Lance Armstrong and Andre Darrigade into fourth place in the all-time list.

It was a remarkable effort for the Manxman, who spent much of the Tour in the service of Wiggins.

Wiggins repaid the favour, taking to the front with 1.1km remaining, with Edvald Boasson Hagen assuming the lead 600 metres out.

Tour de France 2012 winner, Yellow jersey British Bradley Wiggins, (C) kisses his wife Catherine

Fans dressed as Bradley Wiggins celebrate as the cyclist became the first British rider to win the Tour de France during the Investec first test match at the Kia Oval

Party time: Wiggins with his wife Cath (left) while fans at the England v South Africa cricket match celebrate

Teamwork: Bradley Wiggins in his yellow jersey with his Sky team-mates during the final stage

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

Unrivalled: Cavendish is honoured after winning his third stage of this year's Tour de France

Cavendish came to the front in the rainbow jersey 400 metres from the line and powered to a supreme victory.

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was second, with Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) third.

Wiggins' imperious victory in the penultimate day's time-trial meant that, barring a freak accident, he would create history.

Family affair: Cavendish celebrates with his daughter Delilah Grace after winning the final stage

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

Funny farm: Wiggins is joined by several sheep as the Tour de France comes to an end

Team Sky's livery had morphed overnight to become yellow, with Wiggins' bike also yellow as Britons lined the route.

The stage was set to be a procession to the Champs-Elysees, where the sprinters would contest the finish.

As is tradition, the stage was ridden at pedestrian pace until the peloton entered Paris.

British one-two: Wiggins celebrates with team-mate Chris Froome who finished second in the Tour

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

The end is in sight: The pelaton races towards the Eiffel Tower as the Tour de France comes to its conclusion

Wiggins posed for pictures with the leaders of the classifications – points leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), King of the Mountains leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and best young rider Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), wearing green, polka dot and white jerseys, respectively.

Wiggins also rode alongside 2011 Tour champion Cadel Evans, a man the Londoner took inspiration from while watching at home after crashing out of the first week with a fractured collarbone.

Wiggins' Team Sky colleagues shared in the limelight, with the Londoner indebted to his seven colleagues for their support since the June 30 start in Liege.

Brit pack: British fans await the finish of the final stage of this year's Tour de France

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)

Jerseys: Tejay van Garderen (young) Wiggins, Peter Sagan, (sprinter) and Thomas Voeckler (climber)

George Hincapie, riding in his 17th consecutive and final Tour before retirement, led the peloton on to the Champs-Elysees for the first of eight laps.

Alongside Hincapie (BMC Racing), who supported Lance Armstrong in each of his seven victories from 1999 to 2005, was Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek).

Team Sky's full eight-man squad were behind, with Cavendish sandwiched between Wiggins and Froome as the day's racing began.

Champagne moment: Wiggins takes a drink of bubbly from his team car during the final stage

Champagne moment: Wiggins takes a drink of bubbly from his team car during the final stage

Eleven riders joined together in an attempt to foil a sprint finish.

With two laps to go three – Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek), Rui Costa (Movistar) and Sebastien Minard (Ag2r La Mondiale) – went clear as their breakaway colleagues were caught.

The trio were caught with 2.6km remaining, with Michael Rogers the first of four Team Sky riders leading the peloton.

Champion: Wiggins leads out Cavendish to win the final stage of the Tour de France

Champion: Wiggins leads out Cavendish to win the final stage of the Tour de France

A frantic finale ensued, but Team Sky took over in the final kilometre and Cavendish finished off a stunning three weeks for Britain with a sensational win, as Wiggins claimed an historic success.

BRITS IN YELLOW

BRADLEY WIGGINS (2012, 13 days)

Finished second on the opening prologue and moved into the maillot jaune on stage seven in an imperious performance.

CHRIS BOARDMAN (1994, three days; 1997, one day; 1998, two days)

Won the Tour prologue on three occasions to enjoy spells in yellow.

DAVID MILLAR (2000, three days)

Like Boardman, Millar took the yellow jersey on his Tour debut after a prologue success.

SEAN YATES (1994, one day)

A short-lived spell in yellow came towards the end of his career.

TOM SIMPSON (1962, one day)

The first Briton to wear the maillot jaune.

ALL-TIME STAGE WINS

Mark Cavendish claimed the 23rd Tour de France stage win of his career when he won in Paris on Sunday.

In doing so, he surpassed the tally of seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong.

Here, Sportsmail lists the all-time record stage winners at the Tour.

Eddy Merckx (1969 to 1975) – 34 stage wins

Bernard Hinault (1978 to 1986) – 28

Andre Leducq (1927 to 1935) – 25

MARK CAVENDISH (2008 to present) – 23

Lance Armstrong (1993 to 2005) – 22

Andre Darrigade (1953 to 1964) – 22

Nicolas Frantz (1924 to 1929) – 20

Francois Faber (1908 to 1914) – 19

Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins overjoyed with impending win

It doesn't get bigger than this! Ecstatic Wiggins thrilled with impending tour victory

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UPDATED:

16:33 GMT, 21 July 2012

An emotional Bradley Wiggins was overjoyed after closing in on becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France with an imperious victory the stage-19 time-trial to Chartres.

In the 99th edition of the sport's most fabled race, the 32-year-old Londoner is poised to ride Sunday's 120-kilometre 20th stage from Rambouillet to the Champs-Elysees in Paris knowing he will return home victorious.

Tour delight: Bradley Wiggins celebrates after stage 19

Tour delight: Bradley Wiggins celebrates after stage 19

Wiggins, a three-time Olympic champion, began the 53.5km time-trial from Bonneval to Chartres with an advantage of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome and enhanced his hold on the maillot jaune with a scintillating display against the clock to take a 3mins 21secs lead into tomorrow's final day.

Wiggins, who crashed out of the 2011 Tour with a broken collarbone as Cadel Evans triumphed, said: 'It's the Tour. It doesn't get much bigger than this.

'You couldn't write a better script. What a way to finish.

'I wouldn't say it was a lap of honour, because it hurt. But I just wanted to finish the job off in style.

So close: Wiggins is virtually assured of victory

So close: Wiggins is virtually assured of victory

'There was a lot of emotion in the last 10k. Everything was going through my mind.

'All the years of getting to this point, my family, disappointments, crashing out the Tour last year, watching Cadel in this very position a year ago in Grenoble.

'I always imagined what that would feel like and now I know.'

Wiggins completed the route in one hour four minutes 12 seconds.

Froome was 1min 16secs slower in 1.05:29 to place second on the stage and all but confirm second place overall, while Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is set to complete the podium despite not being in contention on Saturday.

The Italian finished in 1.07:51 to place 16th on the stage, 3:38 behind Wiggins, to fall 6:19 adrift overall.

Triumphant roar: Wiggins celebrates after crossing the line

Triumphant roar: Wiggins celebrates after crossing the line

The margin of Wiggins' victory answered many of those who questioned why Froome, who appeared marginally stronger in the mountains, was not Team Sky's Tour leader.

Team Sky were launched in 2010 with the stated aim of winning the Tour with a British rider within five years – it is a target Dave Brailsford and his squad, through Wiggins, are set to achieve in three.

Wiggins said: 'The time-trial is what I do best. Perhaps I'm not the best climber in the race, but I've always been a good time-triallist who gets his weight down and climbs well.

'Today was a superb performance. I really wanted to get out there and finish with a bang. Fortunately I managed to do that.'