Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) ended the Tour de France fourth overall, 6-01 behind Alberto Contador and 37 seconds behind Lance Armstrong, equalling Robert Millar’s British record of fourth place in 1984.
Now, after all the pain of three weeks in the saddle and the mental pressure of always being a contender, Wiggins can finally sit back and celebrate his achievement. He probably does not know, but his life and career will probably never be the same.
“This last week has been a long old week and I’m pleased its done now,” Wiggins said just a few minutes after the stage ended in Paris.
“The last three weeks have changed everything for me. Obviously I really need to rethink about the next few years. And realistically, I think I can come back next year and try and get on the podium.”
“I’m not going to say I can win the Tour de France but to repeat this ride or get on the podium will be something.”
Spirit of Simpson
Wiggins rode the stage to the summit of Mont Ventoux with a photograph of Tom Simpson, who died on the climb, on his top tube. He is honoured to be regarded as a Tour contender like Simpson and says sealing fourth overall on Mont Ventoux was his best moment of the Tour.
“Equalling the great Robert Millar and surpassing the even greater Tom Simpson is pretty special. I do realise what I achieved because I’ve got a great deal of respect for the sport and for what people have done before me,” he told the BBC’s Phil Sheehan in Paris.
“The Tour de France is the biggest bike race in the world. Just to be part of it is fantastic. To do something in it is beyond words.”
“I think Monaco was a great result but people expected that. Andorra was the breakthrough stage and then Verbier was pretty special. But I think most of all sealing it on the Ventoux was the ultimate. This has been a pretty special Tour all round.”
Wiggins has no regrets about finishing fourth behind Contador, Andy Schleck and Armstrong.
“It’s no mean feat finishing behind the three guys on the podium. And I don’t mind admitting that they are much better bike riders than I am. I’m just pleased to be in their company,” he said.
“To be on the podium this year would have been a bit of a cheek. To finish fourth is quite nice. I’m there but not quite there and those guys deserve to be on the podium.”
As Tom Simpson would have perhaps said, a place in the 2010 Tour de France is something to aim for.
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