Wiggins adds road gold to Tour glory at people's palace

Londoner's historic time trial win makes him Britain's most decorated Olympian

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The Independent Online

Oh, the law of unintended consequences. Cardinal Wolsey built Hampton Court Palace as a symbol of his status at the heart of the royal court. He certainly did not envisage its surrender to the boss, Henry VIII, still less as the backdrop to the coronation of Bradley Wiggins almost 500 years later.

The king of the road saw through the grand associations, distancing himself from any pretension to be someone other than himself. "I never considered this to be London over here," he said when asked if there might be an emotional attachment to winning gold in his home town. "It used to be called the Home Counties. I'm very much a Wiganer these days."

Wiggins said he would never again experience the adulation he felt riding home, pretty much certain that he had won gold. A bigger crowd than Henry ever drew, well voluntarily anyway, hammered out their salutations as he rode back through the gates after crossing the line 42 seconds clear of Tony Martin in second. It was a fanfare for the common man, the communion of folk hero and his people.

There was an attempt to knight him in the press conference that followed immediately after the gold medal ceremony. Fair enough, we thought. Not him. He declined the honour, saying: "Sir Wiggo doesn't sound right, to be honest. As much of an honour as it would be to receive it, I would just put it in a drawer. I'll always be Brad."

"Great bloke wins gold" does not quite do justice to what happened yesterday, yet that is the essential truth of the matter. He thought he might take a vodka tonic or two to celebrate, watch his mates at the Velodrome tonight, then nick a few days with the family in Wigan.

"You train all year for results," he said. "You can't train or plan for what happens in terms of all of this. I want to go back to a normal life. Whether that happens is another matter. That's why people end up at the Priory, I guess."

It was immediately evident the moment he swung his ten grand, carbon fibre prototype around the first left-hander that he was starring in something special. This was the point at which we fully understood the migration made by Wiggins from sporting hero to household legend following his Tour de France coronation.

Beijing time-trial silver medallist Emma Pooley finished a disappointed sixth in the women's event. Pooley said: "It's the mistake of being an optimist. Perhaps I should have been more pessimistic."

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