Born in Ghent in 1980 and winner of the Ghent six day track event in 2016, it would be a poetic finish to a remarkable career for Britain’s first ever Tour de France winner. A lot came before that historic victory in the 2012 edition of the Tour. Here’s a retrospective of the career of Bradley Wiggins:
Son of Australian track rider Gary Wiggins, Wiggins found his first international success when he won the three kilometer pursuit at the Junior World Track Championships in Cuba in 1998, before going on to claim bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the team pursuit, starting his path to becoming Britain’s most decorated Olympian.
In the interim Olympic cycle, Wiggins turned professional with Francaise des Jeux and continued racing on the track picking up two silver medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. He set the bar for the rest of his career at the Olympics in Athens 2004 by winning the individual pursuit and a claiming a silver with his team mates in the team pursuit.
Wiggins’ most successful Olympic games came at Beijing in 2008 where he won both the Individual and Team Pursuits, although missing out on the Madison, coming ninth with his partner and co-World Champion at the time, Mark Cavendish.
Switching his focus to the road for 2009 with American team Garmin Slipstream, Wiggins sprang to the forefront of the world road cycling scene by placing fourth in the Tour de France (later promoted to third after Lance Armstrong’s result was annulled) and so the
British Team Sky was founded in order to boost Wiggins’ future chances in the Tour de France.
Finishing 23rd in the 2010 edition of the race and crashing out of the 2011, it was 2012 before the Team Sky formula worked, and in emphatic fashion beating his teammate and future double Tour winner Chris Froome by 3′ 21″. Wiggins won two of the three individual time trials, missing out on the prologue, in the race, as Team Sky settled in to the dominating style that has been present in the peleton since, controlling on mountain stages and taking chances when they match the strength of the leaders. Wiggins rode this form all the way to the Olympic Games in London later that summer and won his first gold on the road beating German Tony Martin by nearly a minute to win the time trial.
After what was undoubtedly the pinnacle of his career Wiggins continued to pick up big scalps, namely the win in the 2014 Tour of California and the World Time Trial Championships in Ponferrada, Spain. Not only that but he managed to break the Hour Record in 2015.
Wiggins returned to the Olympic Games in 2016 for Team GB, winning the Team Pursuit, giving him eight total medals, becoming GB’s most decorated Olympian.
Following his success at the 2016 Olympics, Wiggins linked up with his former Madison team mate, Mark Cavendish and took to the track six day circuit, competing in the London event then going on to win at the famous Ghent six day.
As for the future, it remains open ended for Wiggins. Although he had previously announced that he would retire after the Ghent six day, he has now said that he may return to racing is the situation was right, although he claims he no longer enjoys road racing.
So it may be that we see a return next year to the velodrome for Wiggins, but for now he has his team WIGGINS to focus on, and has voiced intentions to set up a women’s team alongside his already established male team. Whatever Wiggins does, he will always be remembered as the mutton-chopped warrior who conquered France, and the world in his reign at the top.