ROUBAIX, France (VN) — Bradley Wiggins closed his road career the way he wanted to in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. He failed to achieve the fairytale win, but did about everything else he wanted in the French one-day classic.
‘Wiggo’ attacked in sector seven, Templeuve, went again in the final five kilometers, and placed 18th with some of cycling’s elite. It backed up 2014’s ninth place in Roubaix’s velodrome and closed his chapter with Sky, which included the 2012 Tour de France victory.
He signs off with the British super-team this evening and turns to the track for the hour record this June and the Olympics in 2016.
“This morning it was really hard not to think about it,” Wiggins said to a group of journalists huddled around Sky’s bus.
“I’ve been trying not to think about Roubaix being the last one. But so many people coming up to me in the race and saying, ‘Have a nice life.’ All these guys who you’ve been bashing heads with for years and years, never spoken to you, coming up and congratulating you on your career.
“It was hard not to get emotional in those first 100km. But I came through it well.”
Wiggins lasted the first 100km and lit up the second half of the 253.5km cobbled monument.
He fired free from a chase group and bridged to Belgian Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx-Quick-Step) with 33km to race. Not able to stay free, he tried again in the final 5km.
“It was on all day,” added Wiggins. “Normally after the first couple of sectors, people stop for a wee. It was tough with that tailwind.
“I attacked with Sep Vanmarcke with 5 kilometers to go, but by then it is bit like the Titanic when it is going down in the film and they are all hanging on, and people are falling.”
Wiggins closed his Sky chapter with 18th, 51 seconds behind German John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin). It adds to a career that includes four Olympic gold medals, plus the 2012 Tour de France title, which was a first for any British cyclist.
“When you think about it, the guy’s won the Tour, the Olympics, he’s done everything he can, and there he was with 40 kilometers to go, attacking on his own and looking like he might ride away from everybody; that takes some doing,” Sky principal David Brailsford said.
“He should hold his head up high. He gave it a good ol’ crack, like he always does. The race is the race, but for us it was all about him and his performance today. He did exceptionably well as always. It’s sad to see him to go.”
Wiggins will join a Continental team that he created, simply called ‘Wiggins,’ and turn to the track. He will race some smaller road races with the team, like the Tour of Yorkshire, May 1-3, but the big aim will be the hour record in early June and the Rio De Janeiro Games in August 2016.
“I’m pretty happy. I’ve had a good run,” Wiggins said.
“And this was always a bit like a new job over the last two years. … A bit of a hobby … passion.”
Brailsford skipped his early flight home to stay with the team in Kortrijk, Belgium, and have a drink. He will toast the cyclist who helped launch Sky in 2010 and became one of Britain’s greats.
“He’s done a lot for British cycling, and for the whole of sport in Britain,” Brailsford said. “When you consider his versatility, he’s got to be right up there with one of the best athletes the country’s ever produced.”