LONDON (AFP) — The unprecedented feat of winning the Tour de France and Olympic time trial gold, all in the space of 10 days, should be enough to earn Bradley Wiggins a knighthood.
But after months of living like a monk and training like never before to achieve his dreams this season, the down-to-earth Londoner is looking forward to a simpler pleasure in life.
“Vodka tonic helps,” said Wiggins when asked Wednesday how he would like to mark his recent history-making feats. “I’ll have a few of them tonight.”
A three-time Olympic track champion, Wiggins cemented his status as one of the world’s leading road racers with his maiden Tour de France victory only 10 days ago. His win, three years after a breakthrough fourth place in 2009, came largely down to his two time trial victories on stages nine and 19 of the three-week epic.
Unfortunately for the 32-year-old Englishman, his summer tour of duty was far from over. Despite returning to a hero’s welcome in London where fans stuck fake sideburns on their faces to pay tribute to his yellow jersey feat, Wiggins barely had a moment to contemplate.
He still had to play a prominent role in the team that tried but failed to deliver sprint king Mark Cavendish to the Olympic road race gold last Saturday when Alexander Vinokourov triumphed.
On Wednesday, however, it was all about Wiggins.
True to form, he rode confidently out of Hampton Court Palace — the former residence of King Henry VIII — and blitzed the 44km time trial course to finish in a winning time of 50:39.
It gave Wiggins his fourth Olympic title, but first from a road event, and took his tally to seven medals — one more than the record of six held by former Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave.
Given Wiggins’ success in the discipline this season, few expected him to achieve anything less.
“Bradley is unbeatable at the moment, everybody knows that, and for me silver feels like gold,” said Germany’s Tony Martin, whose preparations suffered after he broke his wrist in a crash early in the Tour de France.
With recent Tour de France runner-up Chris Froome taking bronze after finishing third, British cycling could not be in a better place.
Nairobi-born Briton Froome, known as the “White Kenyan,” hopes it is just the start.
“To finish first and second on the Tour and come away with two medals from our home Olympic Games is quite something for us. Hopefully, this is just the start of a lot more to come,” said Froome.
While Froome is regarded as Britain’s next big grand tour champion, this is Wiggins’ moment.
Known for his dislike of pomp and ceremony, as well as his love of the
Mod fashions and music of the 1960s and 1970s, he did not sit for long on one of three thrones that London organizers had placed on a makeshift podium.
He quickly went roadside to see his wife and two children before being mobbed by dozens of young fans keen on getting a closer glimpse of the man that is likely to go down as a British cycling legend.
“I wanted to go and see my wife and all the people standing on the roadside,” said Wiggins, who lamented the fact fans could not see the podium ceremony.
“The great thing with cycling is that its very accessible… all the real fans are out there. It’s a shame they couldn’t see the ceremony.”
And although he may have to wait before being awarded a knighthood and the “Sir” honorific that goes with it, Wiggins is already uncomfortable at the thought.
“It doesn’t quite sound right, let’s be honest,” he said.
“As much as an honor it would be to receive something like that, I don’t think I’d ever use it. I’d just put it in a drawer.
“I’ll always just be Brad.”