Bradley Wiggins defended his Tour de France lead today on the mountain stage to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine and then his response to a question about doping cynics.
“I don’t feel like I should have to sit here and justify everything I have done to the world,” Wiggins said in a press conference today.
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“I’m not some s**t rider who has just came from nowhere. I’ve been three times Olympic champion on the track. People have to realise what kind of engine you need to win an Olympic gold medal as an individual pursuiter.”
Wiggins responded to a journalist who asked about his response to a doping question four days ago when the race finished in Porrentruy, Switzerland. He gave a strong response, coloured with profanity, to those who write in Twitter and other social media outlets to compare his Sky team with Lance Armstrong’s former US Postal/Discovery Channel team. Several of Armstrong’s former team-mates are linked with doping and the US Anti-Doping Agency charged Armstrong with doping in the last month.
He was also asked why his Sky team told journalists they could not question him about French cyclist, Rémy Di Gregorio ahead of yesterday’s rest day press conference.
French police arrested Di Gregorio yesterday in connection with a doping investigation. His Cofidis team have pulled him from the Tour and temporarily suspended him. The journalist pointed out that Wiggins used to race for Cofidis, but more importantly has some reason to speak for the peloton since he leads the Tour de France.
Wiggins’ response today lacked profanity and went on for longer, around 2-45 minutes. At the end, he looked at the translator and asked, “Did you get all that?”
“I understand it from certain parts of the media, but I don’t feel like I should have to sit here and justify everything I have done to the world. I’m not some s**t rider who has just came from nowhere. I’ve been three times Olympic champion on the track. People have to realise what kind of engine you need to win an Olympic gold medal as an individual pursuiter. I’ve been six times world champion, fourth in the Tour de France, third in the Vuelta last year. It’s not like I’ve just come from nowhere. I’ve got an incredible pedigree behind me, junior world champion since I was 18 and an incredible rise through the ranks.
“I didn’t lose my cool, I just said what I think. It’s completely different. If I’d lost my cool, this table would’ve been on the floor down there. That’s the difference. I just don’t feel like I have to sit here and justify to everyone.
“To me, it’s them p**sing all over everything I’ve done, by just saying ‘Oh yes, he’s cheating’ or whatever. That’s what really gets to me. Everyone in their individual jobs works hard at what they do. Everyone on this Tour has got a certain job to do and they work hard on it. That’s no different to the riders and the position I’m in now. Yes, I’m in the yellow jersey and I’m inspiring maybe kids to take up cycling, this, that and the other.
“But ultimately I’ve worked hard to be in this position and I deserve every minute of what I’ve been through this last week or so, especially after sitting at home last year and watching it on the telly. There’s one reason why I’m in this position and that’s because I’ve worked hard and I shouldn’t have to justify all that other stuff which we spoke about the other day to certain parts of the world.
“I’m tested by the UCI God knows how many times a year, God knows how many times on this race and the Dauphine. Blood tested in the morning. What more can I do? Other than that? I don’t know. I’d love to know. I’m only human at the end of the day. I’m not this robot. I’m just a kid from London who happened to be good at cycling, made it here.
“I make mistakes in my life, I swear, I’m not this fantastic role model that everyone wants me to be. I am good at riding my bike and performing on my bike. Other than that, sitting up here, answering all these questions every day, trying to be articulate about it. I don’t know what else I can do, other than that.”
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