Nationality: British Date of birth: April 4, 1980 Team: Retired
If Sir Bradley Wiggins was once considered to be arguably Britain’s greatest ever cyclist, now the argument is settled. His magnificently varied palmarès — not to mention his iconic status outside of the sport’s die-hard fan base — have secured his position at the top of the tree.
Beginning his career predominantly on the track, Wiggins announced his talents with a win in individual pursuit at the 1998 Junior Track World Championships. Since then he has won six full world championships on the track, three in the individual pursuit, two in the team pursuit and one in the Madison. Even more impressive is his record in the Olympics, with gold medals at three successive Games in the individual pursuit (2004 and 2008), team pursuit (2008 and 2016) and, after his conversion to the road, the time trial (2012).
Wiggins’s early years on the road were somewhat nomadic, beginning at the Linda McCartney team in 2001, then Francaise des Jeux (2002-2003), Credit Agricole (2004-2005), Cofidis (2006-2007) and High Road/Columbia (2008). As a time trial specialist he won numerous stages, but there was little hint of what was to come.
That was the high point for Wiggins’s road career, but there were still more achievements for him to claim. His 2012 Olympics win on the streets of London cemented his position not just within his sport but as a household name in Britain. His easy charm in front of the press was legendary and he won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, voted for by the public, to prove that cycling was smashing its way into the mainstream. The ‘Wiggins effect’ is credited with launching a boom in participation as his achievements inspired a generation to race, commute and ride sportives for the first time.
Bradley Wiggins after winning the 2012 Tour de France. Photo: Graham Watson
After missing the 2013 Tour de France through injury, and controversially missing selection in 2014, Wiggins instead focused on the World Championships, where he added yet more variety to his palmarès with a win in the individual time trial. It was to be his final hurrah as a top-level professional road rider. His final race in Team Sky colours was the 2015 Paris-Roubaix, but this was to be one fairytale too many.
Instead, Wiggins launched his own team and turned his attention back to the track, and the Hour Record in particular. Taking the line in the London Olympic velodrome on June 7, Wiggins smashed the previous record and set a new mark of 54.526km, cementing another entry in the history books for a rider who has always been an avid fan and student of the sport’s folklore.
With that goal achieved, he rejoined the national team pursuit squad ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.The signs were good at the start of 2016, when Wiggins and Mark Cavendish claimed the Madison world championship title.
Rather than stopping there, Wiggins then carried his track form through to the Ghent Six Day in Belgium, where he partnered Cavendish once again to become the first British pair to win the prestigious track event.
Despite the wins, 2016 wasn’t all smooth riding as Wiggins found himself at the centre of controversy relating to the use of medication. Illegally hacked therapeutic use exemption certificates were put online after Rio, showing that Wiggins had previously received injections of corticosteroids, including prior to his 2012 Tour win. This contradicted a passage in his autobiography that said he had not used injections. However, there was no suggestion of wrong-doing.