Kevin Garside: Oh, Wiggo, say it ain't so. Sir Bradley will just never do

Now what? Ascot’s royal enclosure? You can’t park your bike there, son

As a youngster who shared in the conceptual revolution alongside Woolfie and Tooting's Popular Front, there is, in a corner of my little red heart, a touch of disappointment at the loss of Wiggo from the barricades. It is right that the nation salutes its heroes, but the co-option of Sir Bradley by the Establishment is a real tug on the communal whiskers.

To claim 30 per cent of the vote in the BBC beauty contest at the close of a year as full of goodies as 2012 demonstrates the hold Wiggins has on British hearts and minds. He is the cycling everyman who encourages the masses to believe that each of us has a talent as deep as his, if only we found the right buttons to press.

Wiggins' career reached a formidable peak in the Tour de France in July, the first Briton to cross the finish line in Paris wearing the maillot jeune. On a sunny day at Hampton Court just three weeks later Wiggins learnt how much that historic achievement meant to the people of Britain when they turned up in their thousands along the banks of the Thames to pay tribute.

It was the occasion of the Olympic time trial, a day that would end with Wiggins perched on a faux throne in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, shirt unzipped to the waist, fingers raised in a victory salute as he awaited the medal ceremony. This impromptu coronation takes its place in the montage of golden memories of London 2012. The formal presentation in the courtyard of Henry VIII's country seat was a treat, too, but in its regulated format could never project the essence of 2012's signature sporting figure. Bradley Wiggins ascended the podium, but it was Wiggo on that throne in all his magnificent irreverence.

The day before the Olympic pageant began Wiggo held court at the training base used by the road cycling team in leafy Surrey. He seemed at odds with the bucolic splendour of the Foxhills setting, which in texture and tone could not be further removed from the Lancashire hinterland that is home. He spoke of his pride at winning the Tour de France and how texts from Johnny Marr, guitarist with The Smiths and fellow Mod, meant more to him than the letter of congratulation he received from the Queen.

"It's all very strange. Those sorts of things don' happen to guys like me. My wife kept going on, ecstatic that Queen had sent us a letter. I kept saying, 'F*** the Queen, Johnny Marr has sent me a text on Twitter.' But she said, 'It's the Queen.' I said , 'And this is Johnny Marr, Cath, come on.' I had a message from 'God', too, Robbie Fowler."

We swooned, or at least those of us with a crumpled copy of The Communist Manifesto in our bags did. I confess that the passing years have taken the edge off my socialist pretensions. The Marxists texts still adorn the bookshelves but the need for comfort has allowed a degree of indulgence to creep in. But a knighthood, a knighthood. Oh Wiggo, say it ain't so. Sir Bradley will just never do.

On that August day when you were still one of us the streets around East Molesey rejoiced in your presence. From first light the bijou bars and cafes along Bridge Road opposite the station were festooned with hirsute Wiggo worshippers sporting false burns. No rider has ever bolted down a ramp with such a following wind as this. With the breath of the great British public at his back Wiggo flew along the Surrey roads at a divine pace none could match.

His race to the line was a cacophony of bells and whistles. At first he wasn't sure he had beaten the clock and pressed an aide anxiously for confirmation. As if. At the sign of the raised thumb Wiggins rode back through the Palace gates to commune with his people in a mini lap of honour along the river. On his return he skipped off the bike and casually took a seat on the throne. The pose was a gift for photographers and its entirely unscripted nature revealed something of the essential Wiggo rarely glimpsed in the overly scrutinised, highly pressured environs of the tour.

This was Wiggins unplugged. The last push of summer was done. Next stop was the Velodrome in the Olympic Village to watch the track team spin yet more gold on the boards. He could not have been happier, sat among the crowd with a beer in his hand, man of the people, raising a toast to the great British triumph that was the Olympic Games. "Wiggo, Wiggo, Wiggo," they screamed. Now what? Tea with the Queen on the Buckingham Palace lawn, a seat in the royal box at Wimbledon, the royal enclosure at Ascot? You can't park your bike there, son. The skilful PR alignment of Her Majesty with the common folk is one of the great illusions of the age. No matter how many hours she logs watching EastEnders, the butler will always serve her tea. That could be you, one day, Wiggo.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
people
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PE Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary PE Teacher (maternity cover) f...

English Intervention Teacher

£23000 - £33000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: English Intervention Teac...

Teacher of Citizenship and RE

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Citizenship and REMaternity L...

English Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher for a academy ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments