Tour de France: Murray Mania's long forgotten. Now Britain's gone wild for Bradley Wiggins
Fans flock to Paris to watch committed mod pedal his way to Tour victory
Hardcore fans are cycling from London to Paris. Others are snapping up the last seats on the Eurostar. Either way, the race to see Bradley Wiggins cross the finishing line and become the first British winner of the Tour de France this weekend is now underway.
Wiggomania is set to take over the nation as the 32 year-old cyclist aims to make history by being crowned the winner of sport's most gruelling challenge, when he passes through the Champs-Elysées finishing line on Sunday afternoon.
Praised for his sporting behaviour and untarnished by scandal, victory would ensure Wiggins' place among sport's global elite. An Olympic gold in the Men's Time Trial, to add to his previous six medal haul, is tipped to follow.
After the disappointment of Andy Murray's Wimbledon final defeat and England's Euro 2012 exit, Belgian-born Wiggins has rapidly become the latest vessel for a success-starved nation's hopes.
Today, a team of 140 Wiggins superfans embarked on a 288-mile cycle ride from London to Paris to claim a spot at the final time trial. Organised by Team Sky, which has guided Wiggins to the head of the field, his fans wore yellow jerseys and "Wiggo" masks. Stopping for a break outside Ashford, Kent, Ailsa Stewart, said: "We aim to get to Paris on late Saturday afternoon. We all have that extra element of enthusiasm because we're going to cheer Bradley coming down the Champs-Elysées with the rest of his team."
A fan has even recorded a final stage theme song especially for Wiggins, a committed Mod who is a huge fan of The Jam. Performed on a ukulele and inspired by Weller, "A Town Called Paris" was posted on You Tube.
Wiggins' profile is set to soar, predicted Max Clifford, the PR guru. "Bradley has a squeaky clean, sporting image which will be very attractive to sponsors," he said. Wiggins, who earns just over £1 million a year on his current contract, will find himself in demand, said Clifford. "He has exceptional ability and his endorsement will carry weight. Bradley has the potential to earn £20m over the next five years."
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