Kids From Kilburn: The Bradley Wiggins Story

Cycling

ByTheMinCycle

Bradley Marc Wiggins was born on April 28th 1980 in Ghent, Belgium and is the son of his mother Linda and the Australian cyclist Gary Wiggins. Bradley and his mother moved to her parents’ house in London at the age of two when his father left them. Eventually, they settled down and lived in Maida Vale and Bradley went to school in Kilburn (north West London).

Although Wiggins played football as a junior and even had trials for West Ham, cycling became his true love after watching Chris Boardman at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona in the Individual Pursuit, the event his mother told him his father had been successful in. He fell in love with the Olympics and cycling itself from then on.

Wiggins entered his first race at 12 years old and was junior 1km Time-Trial champ at 16 and reached his first Commonwealth Games in 1998 after winning the 3km Individual Pursuit at the junior Track World Championships in Cuba. A tenth place finish with Rob Hayles in the Madison at the Track World Championships in Berlin secured Wiggins’ first Olympic Games in Sydney. Team Pursuit bronze followed.

Wiggins’ breakthrough to professional road cycling came in 2001 when he appeared for the Linda McCartney team. After they disbanded, he appeared for Sigma Sport and won his first stage race at Cinturón a Mallorca. Wiggins signed for Française de Jeux in 2002 but soon became homesick but that didn’t stop him winning two Silvers at the Commonwealth Games including a first face-off with Brad McGhee.

McGhee got the better of Wiggins in the Individual Pursuit and Australia got the better of Wiggins’ Great Britain team in the Team Pursuit, too. Wiggins soon became disillusioned with his FDJ future and British Cycling enlisted the man who Wiggins first watched at a young age, Chris Boardman, as his mentor. The following Summer, Wiggins’ reached his first Grand Tour.

At the 2003 Giro d’Italia, Wiggins was eliminated after 18 stages after missing the time limit but he soon erased that disappointment by winning his first senior title at the Track World Champs in Stuttgart, beating Australian Luke Roberts in the final of the Individual Pursuit by 0.75seconds. His good form on the track continued and in November, he won Six Days of Ghent with Matthew Gilmore.

As you would expect, the Olympics in Athens took centre stage for Wiggins as he looked to build on his two silver medals from Sydney. He had a loss of fitness at the start of the year but he arrived in Sydney in peak condition. In the Individual Pursuit he qualified with an Olympic record. He got revenge on Brad McGhee in the final and beat him by over four seconds to win his first Olympic gold.

As a result, Wiggins was drafted into the Team Pursuit team but they could only get silver after being beaten by Australia once again. Finally, in the Madison, Wiggins got the bronze with Rob Hayles to become the first British athlete in 40 years to win three medals at the same games. He received an OBE in the 2005 New Years Honours list for services to sport.

2005 saw a change of direction for Wiggins as he revealed his desire to compete on the road. In April he won the time trial on stage 2 of the Circuit be Lorraine and his first race stage since 2001 at the Tour de L’Avenir finishing with them Crédit Agricole team-mate Saul Raisin with Steve Cummings coming in three minutes later. He finished 123rd in his second Giro appearance.

A seventh place finish in the Time Trial at the Road World Championships in Madrid in 2005 followed the Giro at the end of 2005 and after signing for Cofidis in 2006, Wiggins’ adventures in Le Tour de France began, finishing 124th and over three hours down on very eventual winner Óscar Pereiro. I won’t go into details of why Pereiro was a very eventual winner but it was in the Armstrong/Landis era.