Rider profile: Bradley Wiggins
Big man, big future
Despite the setback of his 2001 team going 'phut', Brad Wiggins hasn't lowered his sights.
By Nick Rosenthal*
Bradley Wiggins is having a busy season. His year got off to an abysmal start when the team he had signed for - the ill-fated Linda McCartney squad - fell apart in a storm of accusations and acrimony. Hardly an auspicious start to a rider's professional career, but Bradley managed to shrug it off, put it behind him and get on with the job of carving out a reputation as a very promising young cyclist. He re-jigged his season, settled down to ride one more year as an amateur, and focussed the first half of his season on the road, winning two international stage races along the way. Now he has moved into the second phase of his season, the emphasis more on the track for the rest of the summer, using road races to build even more strength and endurance.
Here in Britain, we've all been watching Bradley for a year or two now. This year, people further afield have started taking notice, including the head-hunters from several top professional teams. Far be it from me to offer advice to such experienced gentlemen, but if I were in their shoes I would be reaching for my cheque book. And I'd run, not walk. True talent is rare; true talent, backed up by a pleasant personality is rarer still.
The other lasting impression is Bradley's size. He is six-foot-something (which, in metric units, translates to "very tall indeed"), but height is a funny thing. Although Mario Cipollini is very tall, you tend not to notice it because he is very well proportioned - and also because all his lead-out men are equally tall. With Bradley, most of the height is in his legs, which is no bad thing for a racing cyclist. Watching Le Tour on the telly the other day, I spotted a rider who looks to be a pretty similar shape. Chap called Merckx.
Currently one of the mainstays of the British team pursuit squad, Bradley has his eyes firmly on the individual pursuit crown. Not the British one, but the one that really counts. The Olympic title. In 2005, at the Athens Olympics, Bradley will be 25. "Winning the individual pursuit in Athens is my only big objective for the next four years. Obviously, I have other targets along the way, such as riding well in the Classics such as Paris-Roubaix, and some shorter stage races such as Paris-Nice or the Tour of Galicia. But Athens is the big one. And I'm only interested in gold."
What a lovely place to end. We were speaking in June, before this year's Tour started, but Bradley picked out the winners of last year's Tour prologue, and of this year's. Bradley Wiggins is definitely another member of the "tall riders to watch out for" club.
* Nick Rosenthal - aka 'Fat Nick' - runs 'Fat Nick's European Track Cycling', devoted to all things velodromic.