Why Wiggins won
Dissecting an historic victory
Last Updated: 23/07/12 7:05am
Bradley Wiggins: In a class of his own to take a win for the ages
So much went into the first British success in the world’s biggest cycling race but here are 10 factors which helped propel Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins to a momentous victory.
The foundations for success have been built on a run of momentum stretching back to Wiggins’ broken collarbone in the 2011 Tour. Campaigning the national champion’s jersey, he bounced back to take third at the Vuelta a Espana, before embarking on an unprecidented winning spree in 2012. Prestigious stage race victories at Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie provided the lead-in to an impressive defence of his title at the Criterium du Dauphine.
Wiggins has put in the hard work, climbing 100,000 combined metres in 2012 in search of the form required to capture the Tour title. Spells at altitude in Tenerife helped Wiggins and his team-mates get used not only to the demands of mountain racing, but also the heat.
Wiggins has shown over the last few years that he can climb extremely well, yet following the Vuelta last season he and the team identified a weakness when the terrain became really steep. Wiggins is notable for his composed climbing style, preferring to remain in the saddle while those around him dance on the pedals. Due to the hard work Wiggins looked convincing wherever the terrain took him in 2012.
Wiggins had a tough and character-building start to his road career, turning pro with the ill-fated Linda McCartney Cycling Team which quickly disbanded. He spent five years competing for French pro teams where he learnt to speak fluent French and the craft of road cycling. During this time his success on the track dwarfed the achievements of his road career, but the love of the road, and the Tour still remained. Despite a number of setbacks the Brit continued to progress before finding the winning formula with Team Sky.
Wiggins really came of age on the road at the 2009 Tour de France for Garmin when he took fourth, battling Lance Armstrong for the final spot on the podium and equalling the best-ever British performance. Wiggins began to believe he could win the Tour one day, transforming himself into a stage-race rider.
The Brit won his first Olympic medal in 2000 with a bronze in the team pursuit. Four years later in Athens he returned to claim gold in the individual pursuit, picking up a further two medals in the process – the first British athlete in 40 years to pick up three medals at one Games. In Beijing Wiggins not only became the first rider to defend his pursuit title, but finally bagged gold in the Team Pursuit. Delivering under immense pressure and on a global stage set him up perfectly for the demands and the spotlight of the Tour.
Wiggins has always had a reputation as an elite time triallist but the Brit stepped up his game once again for 2012, winning every TT stage he entered over 10km in distance, putting major time into his rivals along the way. Significantly during the build up to the Tour, he almost caught and passed his consensus main rival Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) for two minutes during his stage victory at the Dauphine.
Team Sky built a team around Wiggins with the sole focus of taking yellow in Paris. Capable riders have put aside their own ambitions for a common goal. The core of the team has ridden together all season to develop a great understanding out on the road.
From top to bottom the nine-man Team Sky Tour squad were integral in guiding Wiggins to success. The unity the riders showed was all the more impressive after Kanstantsin Siutsou was forced to abandon the race following a fractured tibia on stage three. Chris Froome, Richie Porte and Michael Rogers provided incredible support in the mountains. Christian Knees, Bernhard Eisel and Edvald Boasson Hagen played a dual role across all terrains, while world champion Mark Cavendish played a domestique role in between winning stages.
Wiggins took hold of the yellow jersey on stage seven and became only the second Brit to have led all three Grand Tours. The achievement also added his name to a select list of just five Brits who have worn the maillot jaune at the Tour. In defending yellow all the way to Paris he was able to make history as the first British winner of the great race.