Bradley Wiggins expresses regret for past behaviour: 'I was never good at handling public fame and adulation'

The 2012 Tour de France winner isn't proud of the public persona he had

Bradley Wiggins regrets past behaviour
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bradley Wiggins has opened up about regrets he has from his cycling career, admitting that he struggled to handle the fame that his success brought. 

Speaking on the Geraint Thomas Cycling Club podcast, the 2012 Tour de France winner details how he dealt with becoming a household name, ultimately leading to him portraying a public persona he isn't proud of. 

"I didn’t appreciate [the success]," Wiggins said

"I ended up playing a character, I had this veil of playing a rock star. I think it was a good disguise to walk through life like that, and the fame and adulation, I couldn’t handle that as me. I wasn’t good at taking praise.

“I handled it a certain way and be quite shocking and contentious and sweary. I’d get drunk at things in order to perform and play the fool. That didn’t serve me well long term as it built up a perception of me - the impact it had on the kids, and keep up this image of Bradley Wiggins, really strong, Tour de France winner.

"Particularly towards the end of Sky, I was quite lonely. I used to just room on my own, wasn’t enjoying it, just ticking boxes. It was more for everyone else at that point, everything after 2012, I never really enjoyed anything after that again.”

Wiggins continued, discussing the reasons for why he struggled to come to terms with his newfound fame after becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France. The 41-year-old suggests that he never managed to comprehend experiences from his childhood, leading to the character he previously mentioned.

“It probably stems from my childhood really. A lot of trauma I experienced in childhood, I witnessed a murder when I was 15. I never really accepted that. My head teacher got stabbed, Phillip Lawrence, outside of St George’s School - affected how I was as an adult. 

"My dad got murdered in 2008. It [all] affected me into adulthood, when I had my own kids, I was never good at handling public fame and adulation."

Wiggins' estranged dad Gary, also a professional cyclist, died in his native Australia after he was struck in the back of the head, potentially during a fight. No-one has ever been charged with his death. 

Furthermore, Wiggins highlights another regret from his career: his contentious relationship with former team-mate Chris Froome.

“The whole fall out with Chris Froome was really regrettable. I impacted on that a lot, the way I behaved. It’s just been really nice to make peace with all those people since then. Me and Froome met up for the first time actually at the Tour this year, at a night club towards the end. We hugged it out. I speak to him a lot now, and… it’s really liberating to go back and behave like you should have been behaving really.”

The pair fell out during the 2012 Tour de France, after Wiggins felt that Froome had attempted to go against team orders and attack for the race victory instead. There was also the subsequent infamous Twitter spat between the pair's respective partners. However, Wiggins' latest admission clearly shows he isn't proud of the episode in their relationship, something he has rectified in recent times. 

Wiggins also looks back on leaving Team Sky in 2015 with dissatisfaction, claiming he could've handled the event a lot better than he did. 

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“Cycling is so consuming. It’s quite childish and petulant how I handled situations but that just stemmed from not knowing how to cope with things. It impacted on the relationships around me. I sort of left Sky on bad terms really, which I regretted because I was the maker of that myself.”

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Staff Writer

Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.