Bradley Wiggins cycles into Dubai
The charismatic Tour de France winner pedals around our streets in his UAE debut on the Dubai Tour.Robert Chilton February 4, 2016
If you see a blur of Lycra this weekend, chances are you’ve found yourself in the middle of the Dubai Tour, the UAE’s premier cycling road race.
Last year’s Dubai Tour winner Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara and Marcel Kittel are some of the stars in the race. And, of course, there’s Bradley Wiggins.
The eccentric Brit, 35, was the first Briton to win the Tour de France in 2012 and has won numerous medals at the Olympics, as well as breaking the world hour record in June by cycling 54.526km in one hour.
He leads his Wiggins team in its first Dubai Tour, followed by the World Track Championships in London in March. This gruelling preparation will eventually lead to Wiggins’ target of another gold in the team pursuit at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Here in Dubai the weekend’s stages see the peloton race on Friday from the International Marine Club to Hatta Dam (172km) while on Saturday it pedals 173km from Dubai International Marine Club to Business Bay.
Wiggins, a champion, as well as a wit and style icon, is never short of an opinion or a soundbite. Here are some of his best:
Stay the same
“Success hasn’t changed me. I drive a van, not a Ferrari. I haven’t changed and that is why people like you. I am a pretty normal person.”
A modest man
“I have the two golds from Beijing in a sock upstairs in my room. They’re funny things, medals. It will be nice to leave them to my kids when I die, but I don’t really know what to do with them.”
Just a regular guy
“I quite like just being me. Just a working-class hero, if you like. Approachable. I like the fact that people see me in Tesco and say, ‘What are you doing in here?’ I’m like, ‘Same as you. Getting my two-for-one.’ I treat people in the same way, whether I am talking to the Queen or a volunteer at the Olympics.”
In the spotlight
“After the Tour de France [win in 2012] 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 six medals before, but I'd always come home unrecognised really. All of a sudden, [that] summer really attracted the attention of everybody. Eight weeks [before] I could have done anything and nobody would have paid any attention. A lot changed in a short period of time.”
On breaking the hour record
“That's the closest I'll ever come to knowing what it's like to have a baby. It was just torture.”
Making ends meet as a kid
“I had a cheap bike for Christmas. I couldn’t afford the latest cycling tights. I used to pinch my mum’s leggings, and she used to sew elastic on the bottom.”
“I remember one day at school, when I was 12, I was misbehaving, as I usually did on a daily basis. My art teacher dragged me to one side and asked me, ‘What are you going to do with the rest of your life Bradley?’ I said 'I want to wear the yellow jersey and win an Olympic gold medal' and she said 'that's crazy'.
It all sounds very poetic now but that is exactly how it happened. And here I am today. It would make a great film.”
“Bluffing is a massive part of the Tour de France. In something like the Tour de France, without a doubt you tried to hide the pain. It’s as much about destroying your competitors' morale.”
“I don’t think I've met anybody as powerful as him. In his persona. He’s quite an intimidating person to be around. He has an aura.”
Purity of pain
“Cycling is quite a pure sport in that sense: it is mainly about suffering.”
“I have had my children’s initials tattooed on my hand because when I’m time-trialling, I lock my hands together behind the handlebars, and I can see Ben and Bella on my thumbs. It’s like a distraction thing. It’s a reminder of why I’m doing it.
When I’m on the start line of an Olympic final, I look at them and think, you know what? This ain’t life or death. So all I can do is try and do my best. Nobody’s going to shoot me if I don’t win.”