Bradley Wiggins will join his heroes tomorrow in Paris. Barring any accident, he will become the first British winner of the Tour de France and cap off a record setting year.
“There are not many Tour winners when you look at the list. In my lifetime, in 32 years, there’s probably only been 15 winners of the Tour. It’s a very special list to be on,” Wiggins said today.
He won the second of two time trials in Chartres and gave himself an extra margin to secure the overall victory tomorrow when the race travels to Paris for its final leg. He will ride in the yellow jersey of overall winner, something a Brit has never done in the past 98 editions.
“Robert Millar, Tom Simpson… I still never see myself up there with them. They were cult heroes and I looked up to them when I was a child,” Wiggins continued. “They rarely raced in the UK like we do now, they lived in France, there wasn’t the internet and I could only see them in cycling magazines. To be up there with Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and that. And now, barring any accident, I’ll be up there.”
He paused, looked over the room of about 200 journalists and reflected on his record-setting run. Ahead of the Tour, he became the first cyclist to win Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandy and the Critérium du Dauphiné in one season. And of course, no one has ever topped that off with a Tour win.
“I have respect for the whole racing calendar,” he said. He listed the wins and added, “It’s quite something, you know.”
Wiggins will join the Olympic members to travel from Paris to London Luton airport tomorrow night instead of drink and party as former winners have. The road race and time trial are on his mind. Even with the yellow jersey, the possibility of more gold medals, he said that he would remain the same person cleaning up muck.
“I’m determined to not let it change me,” he said. “I’m not into celebrity life or all that rubbish. So much of British culture is built around people who are famous for doing nothing… I’m still Bradley Wiggins, at the end of the day, I have to go home and clean up dog muck and horse muck. At the end of the day, it’s just sport, there will be more Tour winners in the future.”
Wiggins refused to reply to the final question in French even when pushed to do so. He did pause and thank the room of journalists for dealing with him for the three weeks and in the races that helped him create a record run.
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
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Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 19: Wiggins wins time trial to claim Tour de France
Stage 18: Cavendish wins Tour stage 18 with irresistible sprint
Stage 17: Wiggins step closer to Paris as Valverde wins stage
Stage 16: Voeckler the Pyrenean king as he wins in Bagneres de Luchon
Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton
Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank’s Tour
Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
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