Tour de France: From Kilburn to top of the world

Bradley Wiggins has pushed himself to the forefront of British sporting folklore. But his amazing success has been decades in the making

1. The bug first bit

He likes to refer to himself as "a kid from Kilburn" and first got the cycling bug watching Chris Boardman at the 1992 Olympics. As a 12-year-old he "was transfixed watching Boardman beat Germany's Jens Lehmann in the four- kilometre individual pursuit."

2. Have bike, will travel

His dedication was obvious from the moment he started training regularly as a teenager, riding across London to races in Crystal Palace park and at Herne Hill velodrome, the latter where his father, Gary, had cut his teeth in the late 1970s. By the age of 15, Wiggins had collected a Grand Slam of titles at the British Junior Track Championships – pursuit, points, scratch and kilo.

3. Cast in bronze

Wiggins's first Olympic medal, bronze in the team pursuit at Sydney, remains a high point: "Many riders have ridden for a decade or more and never won one." It confirmed Wiggins as talented enough for the British track programmes, which created an association with men crucial to his Tour success – Sky Team principal Dave Brailsford and performance director Shane Sutton.

4. Family guy

One of his biggest battles was with alcohol after the 2004 Olympics. By his side and helping him through was his wife, Cath, with whom he has two children, Ben, aged five, and Isabella, aged three. He credits them for keeping him focused and steady. "Everything going forward had to be about them."

5. Golden summer

His first Olympic gold came in the individual pursuit in Athens 2004. His success at distilling four years of hard work into four minutes of racing showed he could perform in pressure situations such as the Tour de France. The higher the expectations, the more he loves it.

6. Go fourth and multiply

During the 2009 Tour of Italy, on a difficult mountain stage, Wiggins found himself almost unintentionally in the front group of overall contenders. Suddenly the penny dropped: he knew that previously he had never fully exploted his ability to climb. In 2009 he finished fourth overall in the Tour de France, equalling Britain's best result. His battle to become Britain's first Tour winner began in earnest.

7. Leader of the pack

Wiggins's first major triumph for his new team, Sky, was the Tour of Italy prologue in May 2010 – a huge success. But it also made his disappointment at only finishing 24th in the Tour de France all the more accute, and spurred him on to much-needed greater efforts in mountain training.

8. Podium finish

After crashing out in the 2011 Tour, a second huge disappointment, Wiggins showed that his 2009 Tour ride was no fluke, with third place in the Tour of Spain. It showed his consistency and proved that his ability to recover each day from huge efforts was sufficent to guarantee him top spots in three-week racing.

9. Climb every mountain

Months of training on the mountains at altitude – his weakest point – in Tenerife came to fruition on this year's Tour when Wiggins took his first-ever Tour lead, at stage seven's summit finish of La Planche des Belles Filles.

10. Paris here I come

Wiggins's victory in the time trial at Besançon reinforced his overall lead and confirmed that he has managed to master the difficult balance between honing his climbing skills and retaining his strength against the clock – vital for winning a major Tour.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee