Is Wiggins feeling the pressure of yellow?
As foul-mouthed press conference rants go, Bradley Wiggins’ spray at people who doubt that it’s possible to win clean in professional cycling must be one of the all-time great efforts. But does it betray signs of stress?
In his own words, when asked about online accusations of doping: “I say they’re just f–king wankers. I cannot be doing with people like that. It justifies their own bone idleness because they can’t imagine applying themselves to do anything in their lives.
“It’s easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter and write that sort of s–t, rather than get off their own arses in their own lives and apply themselves and work hard at something and achieve something. And that’s ultimately what counts. C**ts.”
Gee Brad, why don’t you tell us what you really think?
On one hand, I like his honesty. We’ve all seen enough dull press conferences where blank-eyed sportspeople mouth platitudes about giving full credit to the boys who gave it 110 percent and our opponents were real quality yes sir no sir three bags full sir.
Wiggins walked into that press conference wearing the yellow jersey of the biggest race in the world, having spent a tough day countering attacks from several key rivals, supported by a strong and united team, and there should have been plenty to ask him.
Form, tactics, the work of his team-mates, how he feels about wearing the yellow jersey, how the team is planning to defend the lead for two weeks: all of these are legitimate questions.
Instead he was asked a ridiculous question about doping, in a week where speculation about Lance Armstrong’s alleged past misdemeanours has been a massive and unwelcome distraction from Wiggins’ own achievement.
Wiggins has never been linked with doping, so it’s understandable that he would resent the insinuation being repeated by a mischievous journalist. It deserved a dismissive answer.
But does his entertaining response betray the pressure Wiggins is feeling as he faces up to the hopes of the British sporting public? The British media is notorious for building up its athletes before an event, raising the level of expectation to dizzying heights.
I watched the British Eurosport post-race analysis following stage eight, and the three studio presenters (James Richardson, Rob Hayles and Tony Gibb) seemed utterly certain that Wiggins has the Tour wrapped up. You can read similar analysis all over the British press. The hype is intense.
Just have a look at what that has done to Scotland’s Andy Murray, who continues to fail at the final hurdle. Is Wiggins subconsciously trying to inject a bit of anti-hero into his image, to ease the adulation, and with it the pressure?
Wiggins is obviously well placed and looks strong, but a lot could happen in the two weeks remaining in the Tour. He knows that as well as anyone.
And it’s not the first time this week he’s lashed out with a few choice words. A couple of days ago he had a swing at a TV cameraman who got in his way after the stage. You can see in videos on YouTube that he turns around and yells: “Fucking arse-wipe, fucking wipe me out with a camera you stupid c*nt.”
A charming demonstration of one of London’s popular dialects.
In some ways (albeit without the effing and blinding) it reminds me of Cadel Evans’ frustrations with the press in the 2008 and 2009 Tours, and that didn’t end well.
Is the pressure getting to Wiggins, too?
Tim Renowden has been following professional cycling closely since Indurain won his first Tour. A former A-grade club athlete, and now a keen recreational cyclist and roller racer, he once rode very slowly up Mont Ventoux. Tim tweets about sport at @timehhh_sp.
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