Cycling: Bradley Wiggins shocked by adulation

 

Bradley Wiggins has been shocked and overwhelmed by the praise and recognition he has received following his phenomenal summer of success.

The 32-year-old previously may have been well known within the sporting world but his public profile has soared since becoming Britain's first Tour de France winner and adding Olympic time-trial gold in London.

This new-found celebrity status is something that has taken him aback.

Wiggins, now a seven-time Olympic medallist with four golds, said: "I left home on June 22 and nobody knew who I was, in the village even, bar a couple.

"And then I came back to this overwhelming adulation everywhere I go.

"It is fantastic, brilliant, it really is - but I wasn't quite expecting the reaction.

"After the Tour de France half the world's media were camped at the end of my lane for two days, which was bizarre to say the least.

"This was my fourth Olympics and I'd won however many medals before, but I'd always come home unrecognised really.

"All of a sudden, this one has really attracted the attention of everybody."

Wiggins, who is married with two children, had hoped to spend some private time with his family after his arduous training schedule culminated with the Tour and London 2012.

But he said: "It didn't really happen. A lot changed - we couldn't even go for a pizza in London any more.

"It was difficult trying to integrate back into what you normally do, always being watched. 'Sorry to disturb your dinner, can I just have a photo?' - it's difficult.

"I think the kids struggled. They just wanted to see me. They hadn't seen me for the best part of seven months.

"We tried to go to Mallorca last week and have a quiet glass of wine on a brick wall and I got photo'd there as well.

"I hadn't comprehended that everything you do, somebody is watching.

"Eight weeks ago I could have done anything and nobody would have paid any attention. A lot has changed in a short period of time.

"I went to Tesco the other night and that wasn't like it used to be."

Wiggins felt more at home as he rode in the inaugural 'Ride with Brad' cyclosportive, a mass-participation public cycling event to raise money for his own foundation.

Around 1,500 people took part over two courses around Lancashire's Ribble Valley, distances of 100km and 160km, in aid of childrens' sporting initiatives.

He said: "I'm not comfortable going to receptions so it was nice to go out and do what I do best, ride my bike, and talk to people. It was in my comfort zone. I really enjoyed it."

PA

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