Bradley Wiggins reveals secret of Tour de France win: He had 'God' and the Queen on his side - Cycling - Olympics - The Independent

Bradley Wiggins reveals secret of Tour de France win: He had 'God' and the Queen on his side

Briton overwhelmed by public support over recent days but says he's changed from the yellow jersey into his overalls as he tries to help Cavendish to gold tomorrow

Hidden away in the Surrey golfing belt the British road cycling elite eased out of Tour de France mode and into Olympic week protected from the frenzy that awaits along the Mall tomorrow. This bucolic setting was shared yesterday by a wedding party and a smaller group celebrating a 70th birthday. Tea and cakes meets testosterone and pedals. Has any Olympic challenge enjoyed such a serene send-off?

A perfect storm is how the team leader David Millar described this week of weeks for British cycling. The five men assembled to bring home the first gold of the Games for Britain is not only the strongest domestic combo but arguably the best the world has seen. Bradley Wiggins, the first Briton to win the Tour de France, hand in hand with Mark Cavendish, the world road race champion and winner of a record 23 Tour stages, driven along by the tour runner-up, Chris Froome, Millar and Ian Stannard, the British road race champion.

Wiggins is grateful for the diversion the Olympics provides. It has given him a focus away from the bewilderment surrounding his achievements over the past three weeks. He admitted to being shocked at the response of the British public to his heroics in France, overwhelmed by the messages of support, which culminated with a letter from the Queen. While that would be the ultimate sanction for most, it paled in the eyes of this Cockney rebel.

"It's all very strange. Those sorts of things don't 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."

Before Buckingham Palace considers sending Wiggins to the Tower on charges of treason, the anecdote was obviously ironic. For the record, he was not serious either in his deification of Fowler, who is known as "God" on the Kop at Liverpool, where the heart of Wiggins truly lies. "From all walks of life. To think that sport can transcend life. A letter from the Queen to a Twitter message from Robbie Fowler. Two ends of the spectrum.

"I never imagined it would be like that this week. In cycling terms I knew how big it was but I was surprised by the reaction of general public. It has been nice coming here into this environment, very protective. We are like monkeys in a cage on the Tour. Here it has been a nice environment to just ride your bike, get massages, etc. I had a little taste just riding around the course. People out there seeing us, painters and decorators saying, 'Bloody hell, it's the British cycling team."

The famous five must have looked like men from outer space in their state-of-the-art kits. Wiggins reckons their appearance as they came upon the Canadian team gave the game away. Tomorrow's race is about going from the gun and firing the bullet at just the right time; the bullet being Cavendish. Dave Brailsford, the performance director of British cycling, put it like this: "Mark is Plan A and the rest of the alphabet. If he does not win we are not winning. I'm pretty sure we are not the only country trying to win this on a sprint. It is a brilliant course, lots of intrigue. Depends on tactics, but that is where we are blessed. It's about playing to our strengths and on not getting into other tactical games."

Wiggins, is happy to demur, to swap the yellow jersey for a pair of overalls to ensure the plan pays off. The respect between these towering figures is absolute. Wiggins knows well enough how Team Sky sacrificed Cavendish and the glory of the Green Jersey for the maillot jaune. But this is not only about Wiggins showing his appreciation. It is an acceptance that in this format, Cavendish is king. "This is what Cav has been living for all year. He is looking as fit as I have ever seen him. We are now approaching the thing that he has been working towards.

"He is rallying the boys, constantly saying what a fantastic team he has around him. In our mind there is no doubt. He has been there for me for last month. Now he can sense it is his turn and we are there for him. I know what I have to do. And I will do what I'm asked to do. That decision will be based on what's right for the team. This is the strongest road-racing team that has ever been assembled; one and two in the Tour de France. If you start looking at the team we must look incredibly dominant.

"It's no secret what we are up to. It's for others to combat that. If it is a straight-line sprint on The Mall he [Cavendish] is the fastest. Get him to 2km out at the front and he will win the bike race."

The sense of team spirit and sacrifice is deeply endearing, according to Brailsford, who has somehow managed to group all the talents in his cycling cabinet without a hint of dissent or jealousy. "The sacrifice is something to be admired. Mark was pouring water down Bradley's back a couple of weeks ago. When you see a team that is fully committed and aligned to winning gold it is something to see. Bradley will exhaust himself to help Mark win gold."

Wiggins already has his. And he will be racing again on his own terms when he goes for gold in the time trial at Hampton Court next week. For now it's about propelling Cavendish across the line to win the first gold of the Games for Britain. "The Tour captured everybody's imagination. It was a great way to step into the Olympic arena. And what a great start. We are proud to have the first opportunity to race and continue momentum from the Tour. We are very happy to be going for the first medal and confident with it. With Mark in the shape he is in, why not?"

Why not, indeed?

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

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
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week