Photo by Wade Wallace
“I’m almost the last person to soak it up and know what it feels like.”
Whilst Monsieur Wiggins will undoubtedly hold onto his down-to-earth professionalism, it must have been a surreal experience for the man from Lancashire via North London standing atop the world’s most glamorous podium in Paris. Undoubtedly a proper English gent, it’s hard not to feel swathes of pride if you are British and you like your cycle racing. Le bon temps.
Embarrassing renditions of God Save the Queen aside, it was an afternoon of ecstasy for the finest of British sportsmen. Mark Cavendish, in perfectly scripted fashion, destroyed his opponents once more with an immaculate trajectory towards his fourth stage win on “Aux Champs-Élysées”. And what was even more delightful about how this script unfurled was how Wiggins, in his yellow, leading-man accoutrements, escorted his friend and world champion along the boulevard like a chauffeur opening the door of his gold-plated Bentley. Chapeau.
The Times suggests that Bradley “has proved to be absolutely the best of men.” His politeness on the descent of the Col de Peguere, waiting for poor old Cuddles to get his delivery of a new bike, his ability to turn the French media on its head (“God Save the King!”) and his quip on the podium likening it to drawing “first prize in the raffle” just add flourishes to his emphatic cruise and conquer of the world’s greatest stage race. Formidable.
Of course there should be plenty of people to congratulate this weekend, including the people who helped launch Rapha’s new Cycle Club in London. A lot like Team Sky’s leadout, the timing was perfect and the celebrations will continue from now until well after the Olympics has packed up and toddled off. So here’s to Wiggins, Cavendish, Froome and the gang, hats off and corks out. Sante.