In a few hours Bradley Wiggins is set to roll down the Champs-Élysée to complete his dream of winning the world’s most famous cycling race. His Tour de France ride has been a triumph of ambition that I find inspiring.
Growing up, Wiggins idolised the legendary Miguel Indurain (and still does, as his happy tweet after receiving a good luck gift from the Spaniard last week demonstrated). His admiration went beyond having Indurain’s poster on the wall. Wiggins took to his bike and through doing the hard hours worked his way up to becoming one of the best young riders in the world. With Lottery funding and the UK developing a new approach to cycling performance, Wiggins had a spring board that helped him turn early success into first Olympic bronze then, in 2004, gold. It was about this time he first appeared on my radar as a sportsman. I knew little about professional cycling, but was impressed by his smooth riding style on the velodrome track.
Wiggins followed up his Athens haul of one gold, one silver and a bronze with two golds at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. This was clearly an immense achievement, but what has impressed me most is how he has pushed himself to conquer new heights.
He has banked his track success and has now found more of it on the road.
I am no Wiggins when it comes to the bike. My biggest cycling achievement was setting out with my friend Lucie to drag two battered old bikes on a round trip of just over 50 miles, with stops in the middle to run a 10k race and lunch with my parents. We did it with zero training and, unsurprisingly, a few miles short of returning home my legs were gone. So I can half imagine what it must be like for those guys on the Tour when they hit the wall!
I am sure Wiggins has been hurting at times, but he has trained hard and trained cleverly to be in a position where he can wear the Tour’s famous yellow leader’s jersey day after day.
When it looked like his career might be losing direction, he set himself a new goal and is now within hours of achieving it in Paris.
My life is a bit different, but watching Wiggins and his excellent, supportive colleagues from Team Sky power through France over the last few days has felt important to me. Having just moved to Canada, I am seeking a new career challenge. In this time of personal upheaval I have taken heart – Wiggins’s Tour reminds me that if I am clear in my goals and work towards them purposefully I can make a success of this exciting next phase of my life.
Bradley Wiggins is an inspiration, and not just to aspiring cyclists.
- I want to say a big thank you to Scott Mitchell for allowing me to use his picture of Bradley Wiggins in training. Scott is Team Sky’s embedded photographer. The image is from his book On Tour Bradley Wiggins.