Bradley Wiggins is on his way to winning the Tour de France, but also becoming cycling’s boss – like it or not.
“I’m not going to stand on the front and do that,” he said today, “I’m a bit too much of a recluse for that.”
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Cycling has had its share of bosses or patrons over the years, including Bernard Hinault, Francesco Moser and Lance Armstrong. Since Armstrong retired the first time, no one really kept control of the pack and acted as its voice.
David Millar, Filippo Pozzato and others have tried, but without success. Even after Armstrong returned in 2009, he was not as powerful. He worked with Danilo Di Luca to stage a protest of the stage conditions in the Giro d’Italia’s Milan stage, but failed. Organiser Angelo Zomegnan shook his head in disagreement, and the stage and the race went on.
Wiggins has won most stage races this year, scoring a new triple crown along the way: Paris-Nice, Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné. In the Tour, he has led for the last seven days.
The French and international media respect him for his achievements. They look past the Tour results and to the progression from his track days.
The win might even mean more in Great Britain if Wiggins took it instead of Chris Froome given his name recognition. Wiggins has three Olympic gold medals and guided Mark Cavendish to a World Championships title in Copenhagen last year.
The team’s backers might even be asking for a Wiggins Tour win. Sports director, Sean Yates, said, “No, not to my knowledge.”
Wiggins does appear to be the boss on the road in this Tour, even if he is uncomfortable with the title.
“I don’t think it’s important for the peloton to have a boss. I think we should have our own voice really, I don’t think anyone should be above anybody else. At the end of the day, we’re all equal, especially as bike riders,” Wiggins said.
“In the past, when there have been bosses and that, it’s more through fear than respect, certainly it’s something I sensed. There are leaders in the peloton that everybody looks up to and respects as riders. I think they’re more important, they’re not necessarily the ones that are always winning, but they are more the voice of the peloton.”
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