BIG INTERVIEW: Controversial cycling ace Sir Bradley Wiggins speaks out
Oh well, a bit of blue,' Sir Bradley Wiggins said with a hint of mischief in his voice.
“There will definitely be a bit of blue in there.”
Wiggins certainly caught me a little bit by surprise when I caught up with him over the phone the other day.
The former Tour de France winner and serial Olympic champion is set to take to the road in a different way over the next week when he travels up and down the country to meet his fans and talk about his incredible cycling career.
Judging by his well-known no-holds-barred type of personality, ‘An Evening with Bradley Wiggins’ is sure to be an interesting affair to say the least for cycling enthusiasts.
While the 38-year-old may have been joking about turning the air blue during the shows, there will no doubt be a lot of straight-talking as the five-time Olympic gold medal winner puts the record straight on his successes, failures – and, of course, the well-documented controversies.
Only recently, Wiggins – who is now retired – has courted yet more controversy after writing a book entitled ‘Icons’.
In it, he details the people who have influenced him the most during his career and his decision to include a chapter on disgraced drugs cheat Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven times during the 1990s and early 2000s – has caused widespread shock and bewilderment across the world. But Wiggins has never been one to conform to the standard and makes no apologies for his inclusion of the American doper.
Fascinatingly, Wiggins does not really look upon himself as an icon to other people.
It is the reason why he believes he can remain true to himself and not worry about what other people may think of him or his views.
“I never consider myself as an icon, so if you never consider yourself as one then I think it’s a very healthy thing,” said Londoner Wiggins, who has made his home in Eccleston, near Chorley.
“People will either like you or they won’t.
“I just endeavour to be myself and continue to be.
“I think in this day and age, it’s quite rare to have a sportsman who is like that.
“ Everything is so contrived and all about key messaging – saying the right things to sponsors. I haven’t got any sponsors so I can say and write or do what I like.
“If I want I can have a cigarette or a glass of wine – it’s quite liberating for me and I want it to stay that way.”
Wiggins certainly transcended his sport in 2012 when he became the first British winner of the Tour de France – one of the most iconic sporting events in the world.
He then followed that by winning gold in the time trials at the London Olympics in what was an incredible summer of sport for the country.
To cap it all off, he won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award and as Wiggins succinctly puts it: “It was a great year 2012. I won the Tour, Manchester City won the Premier League and the Stone Roses got back together.”
But joking aside, Wiggins remarkably did not enjoy his Tour de France victory at the time and it is only now that he is able to savour what he managed to accomplish.
He hated all the attention which being the holder of the famous yellow jersey brought. And his victory was then somewhat clouded by the Armstrong revelations, which broke soon after.
“I was glad to go through the process of the Tour and win the race,” said Wiggins.
“But I did not enjoy everything which came with it – all the added attention.
“Being hailed the messiah – I just wanted to win the Tour for performance reasons.
“I think when you win something like that it puts you into a different category and all the added media attention which surrounds you.
“But when I look back now, I am incredibly proud. I do have fond memories.
“If I am being honest, it still does not feel real – I won the Tour de France…I don’t think that will ever sink in.
“Obviously growing up I dreamt that it would happen and I always thought it would happen.
“But looking back it feels like I was kind of deluded to think that it would happen.
“In my head I never thought it would be any different so I am just so grateful that it actually did happen.”
“I think that is one of the things I tried to write about in my new book.
“This is something I dreamt about – getting out there and being aspirational, making something happen for myself.”
While he did not enjoy winning the Tour, Wiggins admitted he always relished the prospect of competing at the Olympics.
In total he collected five golds, one silver and two bronze medals across four different Games.
“I think the highlight of my career has to be winning gold in 2012,” Wiggins said.
“Not everybody in the prime of their careers gets to compete at a home Olympics and particularly in London.
“Just how special that period was for British sport and the Olympics were probably the defining moment of my career.”
The first “An Evening with Bradley Wiggins” takes place at the Lowry, in Salford, on Monday. He is scheduled for further appearances at the O2 Forum in London on Tuesday, G Live in Guildford on Wednesday, the Barbican in York on Thursday, St David’s Hall in Cardiff on Saturday and the Theatre Royal in Nottingham on Monday, November 19. “ I have been retired for nearly two years now and it’s a nice opportunity to talk about what I have done in the past. There are going to be a few stories, anecdotes about my career and some of the characters and personalities that I have come across, people like Mark Cavendish. To book tickets to see Bradley Wiggins, go to http://myticket.co.uk/