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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*

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Rugged-up
Photo: © Sport & Publicity

Bradley Wiggins

Born: April 28, 1980, Britain
Lives: Britain
Height: 1.903m
Weight: 73kg
Max Minute Power: 529 Watts
Power to Weight: 6.95 Watts/kg
Team: Sport & Publicity/Athletes1/Endura

Palmares

2001: European Individual Pursuit champion; 1st, Tour of Majorca; 1st, Fleche du Sud; 2nd, prologue Tour of Rhodes; 3rd overall, Tour of Rhodes; 1st, Grand Prix Dulwich Primavera (UK); 1st, Eastway SFA Criterium (UK); 1st, Hillingdon BCF Thames Criterium. (UK); 1st, Roadmans Pursuit (Herne Hill)
2000: Bronze, Sydney Olympics team pursuit; Silver, world championships team pursuit; 3rd, 6 Days of Grenoble; 7th 6 Days of Gent; 1st U23, Circuit des Mines (7th overall); 1st Grand Prix Mol-Rauw; 1st Grand Prix Harlebeke (U23) 2nd Grand Prix Merelbeke; 3rd Overall, Centurion Tour of Majorca; Voted "British Cyclist of the Year " by readers of Cycling Weekly
1999: World junior pursuit champion; two stage wins, Tour of Guadeloupe;
1998: Stage win, Tour of Lorraine (4th overall); two stage wins Tour of Ireland ( 2nd Overall)

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.

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Six day racer
Photo: © David Reed
A quick recap of the rider we are talking about: World Junior pursuit champion at 18 years of age. Invited to ride the tough professional six-day circuit at 19. Third place in the Grenoble Six at 20. Sure, there are plenty of people out there who claim six-day racing is rigged. Maybe, maybe not. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that it certainly isn't rigged in favour of British riders when the event is being held in France. Oh, and Bradley's latest weekend outing saw him take the title of European Individual Pursuit champion. I won't say "at the tender age of 21", because age seems to be an irrelevance with Bradley. He has a maturity, a presence, which exudes calm, class.

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.

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Derny racing
Photo: © Sport & Publicity
Which leads us on to the small issue of breeding. Bradley's father, Australian cyclist Gary Wiggins, rode more than a few six-day races, and won the 1984 Bremen Six. Bradley was born in Belgium while his father was racing in Europe. With an Australian father, an English mother and born in Belgium, Bradley theoretically has a choice of three nationalities. I asked him how he felt about having three nationalities. "It's funny, I never really thought much about it until I rode at the Olympics in Sydney and we got the medal. And it meant so much to everyone on the team, and to everyone back home. I realized then that I am British, how much being part of the British team meant to me."

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."

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Belgian sunshine
Photo: © Sport & Publicity
This year has seen Bradley progress well on the road, winning the Tour of Majorca and the Fleche du Sud - both tough stage races. "My climbing has really come on this year. I looked at other blokes my sort of size, people like David Miller and Christophe Moreau, and figured if they can climb hills, so can I."

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.

Photography

* Nick Rosenthal - aka 'Fat Nick' - runs 'Fat Nick's European Track Cycling', devoted to all things velodromic.

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