While the build-up to the Olympics reaches fever-pitch closer to home in London, Road cyclist Bradley Wiggins is the favourite to kick-start what looks to be a summer of success for British athletes and become the first Englishman to win the Tour de France, five days before the games themselves start.
Although he has had a low key start to the year, preferring focussed training instead of following his grand-tour rivals to the Giro d’Italia, Wiggins’ achievements in 2012 have already impressed critics and speak volumes of the transformation he has undergone from being one of the most impressive track cyclists of his generation to a serious contender on the road. One of Team
GB’s greatest endurance racers, “Wiggo” added two Golds to the team’s medal haul in Beijing. Together, the team benefited from British Cycling’s work creating innovative new equipment in the University of Southampton wind-tunnel, setting a new world record in the Team pursuit as well as dominating the Individual pursuit competition.
After joining the American anti-doping team, Garmin Slipstream in 2009, Bradley Wiggins set his sights on the road; quickly achieving results, placing 25th on the vicious Paris-Roubaix cobbles. However, he was determined to go further, losing a significant amount of weight before the year’s Tour de France. Despite beginning as a super-domestique for his team leader, Christian Vandevelde, Wiggins finished an impressive fourth. Since joining the British Cycling backed Team Sky, Wiggins has come on leaps and bounds. With the team built around him, he may not have repeated his Tour de France success, but he has become one of only three British riders to make a Grand Tour podium after coming third in last year’s Vuelta a España.
This year’s Tour de France looks tailor-made for Bradley Wiggins. With the noticeable absence of previous winners Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck as well as the inclusion of two long time trials at the expense of several steep mountain climbs, Wiggins is head and shoulders above the rest of the favourites, having just become the first and only person to win Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné all in the same year. He is in the form of his life and a sure bet to be standing on the podium at the top of the Champs Élysées come the end of July. Which step just depends on his luck and judging by Wiggins’ impressive tactical nous and ability to avoid serious crashes during the opening stages of this year’s race, he has it in abundance.