What next for Bradley Wiggins?

Tim Renowden Columnist

By Tim Renowden, Tim Renowden is a Roar Expert

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    Bradley Wiggins' past two years have been a roller coaster. (AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE)

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    We are in the post-Tour refractory period. The dusky climax of Paris left our heads spinning, and the Tours of Poland and Denmark are mere digestifs, flavoursome though they are, to calm us until the passion of the Vuelta a Espana arrives.

    Thoughts turn idly to the transfer season, quietly churning out of sight.

    Riders are chasing teams. Teams are chasing riders. Deals are being negotiated. Announcements trickle out.

    Big names have already signed on. Rigoberto Uran will take his chance at Omega Pharma-Quickstep; there are too many leaders at Sky.

    One of them is Sir Bradley Wiggins, almost a forgotten man after his heroics of 2012. His team has moved on to a younger man, a new champion.

    Management speaks of Richie Porte for the Giro d’Italia and Chris Froome for the Tour, a dynasty in the planning.

    Where does this leave Wiggins?

    Seemingly out of sorts all year and often giving the impression of a schoolboy on detention, but wait! Wiggins stormed back into the public consciousness this week with a thunderous victory in the Tour of Poland’s individual time trial.

    It was his first individual victory of 2013, and against no less than Fabian Cancellara himself, returning to serious racing after some time away following his classics campaign.

    Wiggins’ lacklustre performance earlier in Poland was explained by his goals for the coming months:

    “I didn’t come here for GC. I came here to win the time trial and I’ve done that.

    “Everything I’m doing is working towards the world championships time trial. It’s a good confirmation. I’ve won it, so we’re on the right track.”

    Wiggins has been rumoured to be leaving Sky all year, but a string of unconvincing performances gave the impression he had peaked. His motivation looked shot and his attitude was worse.

    With the price tag of a Tour de France and multiple Olympic championships, he wasn’t exactly looking like a bargain.

    A strong performance in the world championships time trial would turn this around faster than Wiggo’s ovalised chain rings on a flowing descent.

    But if he was to leave Sky, where would Wiggins go?

    OPQS is out. Trek has Schlecks. Saxo is stacked. Katusha is full. Astana has Vincenzo Nibali. Movistar has Nairo Quintana.

    BMC might be an option, but its budget for ageing champions is looking stretched. Cannondale? A return to Garmin?

    What if he came to Orica-GreenEDGE?

    Stop giggling, up the back. Humour me for a moment.

    Last week I briefly toyed with the idea of OGE recruiting a foreign GC rider to lead the team in Grand Tours while our home-grown hopes develop and mature.

    Some perceptive commenters suggested Wiggins might be the ideal man – talent and experience like his is priceless, and he’s still young enough to compete with the best, but will be moving aside by the time Cameron Meyer or Simon Clarke are ready to assume leadership.

    Wiggins’ Grand Tour chops speak for themselves, and he would also have a thing or two to teach Luke Durbridge in the time trial.

    He knows what it takes to make the leap from track prodigy to road superstar. That’s the sort of knowledge a team stacked with Aussie trackies could really use.

    Would he fit in with the culture at Orica-GreenEDGE? Would the Aussie fans accept a man who dethroned ‘our’ Cadel and crushed our hopes on the velodromes of Athens and Beijing?

    Perhaps more importantly, could Wiggins be convinced to attempt the Tour again? In June he told the Guardian he probably couldn’t see himself riding the Tour again:

    “For me it was always about winning the Tour, that was a huge thing for me, a huge journey; I’ve been doing that for years.

    “I don’t know if I’d want to go through all that again to be honest. I’ve always had other goals and there are other things I’d like to try and do.”

    If that’s how he felt at the end of June, with emotions still raw after withdrawing from his Tour defence, dumped as leader by his team, injured and out of form, would he still feel the same on a new team, as undisputed leader, and with powers returned?

    Wiggins has given conflicting public statements before – he speaks his mind, at the time. A new environment, a new approach, a change of opinion?

    I think it would work. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

    The interregnum continues.

    Tim Renowden
    Tim Renowden

    Tim Renowden has been following professional cycling closely since Indurain won his first Tour. An ex-runner, now a club grade bike racer, Tim tweets about sport at @megabicicleta.

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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • August 6th 2013 @ 9:07am
      BenG said | August 6th 2013 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      How good would OGE be in the team time trial with Wiggins on board…..

    • Roar Guru

      August 6th 2013 @ 9:27am
      Bones506 said | August 6th 2013 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      Wiggins will chase the WC TT and run up against Spartacus and Martin as his main goal for 2013 given his Giro got de-railed.

      I think his poor attitude (assume most have seen how he greeted fans in Poland) wouldn’t fit well with OGE at all.

      Also – he needs a couple of super domestiqe’s in GC’s to be a real threat. He is a steady state tempo rider.

      I also don’t think OGE cold accomodate his price tag. I would prefer to take a couple of young suer domestique’s and try to build a team around Cam Meyer and some o the younger guys coming through

      • Columnist

        August 6th 2013 @ 10:20am
        Tim Renowden said | August 6th 2013 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        I like the idea but it’s difficult to identify who would fit the bill. Who would you pick, specifically, Bones?

        I think a couple of years riding as a mountain domestique is what’s required for C. Meyer if he’s going to become a GC rider – Richie Porte or Rigoberto Uran provide the model for this. He needs to flog himself through a couple of grand tours and learn to ride hard, consistently, day after day, without thinking about his own immediate personal goals. If he can do that, then he can think about GC for himself.

        • Roar Guru

          August 6th 2013 @ 1:27pm
          Bones506 said | August 6th 2013 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

          Porte is the most obvious IMO – he extended his contract with Sky and this is a smart move as he rightly said – no better place to learn to be a GC contender.

          He can climb and TT.

          I realise he blew on one stage in the TDF but he had done a lot of work in the wDauphine and in the days prior – he is the guy sky use to wind the screws in when they want to start cracking the bunch up.

          He is 28 and has another 2 years at Sky. I expect he will move teams at that time.

          he would ring awealth of top leeltrainig and experience in 2 years time.

          Zero issues with cultural fit into OGE s well.

          • Columnist

            August 6th 2013 @ 1:38pm
            Tim Renowden said | August 6th 2013 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

            Yes, all sound reasoning and I think we’ve all seen what Porte is capable of, but OGE can’t go into stasis for 2014 and 2015 – Porte has made it pretty clear that if OGE want him they need to start building a team now. He’s already in the frame for Giro leadership and Sky is strong enough that its ‘B’ team can still help him win it – so what can OGE offer?

            • Roar Guru

              August 6th 2013 @ 4:19pm
              Bones506 said | August 6th 2013 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

              Money – he would come in on a bigger contract than Sky if OGE really want to get him.

              The other thing is a shot at the TDF as Froome is saying he will go at it for several years.

              Sky may well back Porte and have Froome as support like they did after Wiggo won it.

              I fully expect Porte to lead Sky at the Giro next year.

    • August 6th 2013 @ 9:55am
      Andrew said | August 6th 2013 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      Wiggins was on drugs when he won and he doesn’t want to race again just in case he tarnishes his image.

      • Roar Guru

        August 6th 2013 @ 11:20am
        HardcorePrawn said | August 6th 2013 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        And your evidence?

        • August 6th 2013 @ 11:47am
          Andrew said | August 6th 2013 @ 11:47am | ! Report

          The times they are still riding are the same ones Armstrong rode. So if you think Armstrong was guilty then you must think Sky are. Due to its past and current doping problems, In cycling you must be presumed guilty until proven innocent. It is still totally indemic in the sport and the doctors assisting the Sky team have confessed to doping previously.

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-2217368/Team-Sky-staff-facing-fresh-allegations-doping-Lance-Armstrong-fallout-grows.html

          • Roar Guru

            August 6th 2013 @ 11:53am
            HardcorePrawn said | August 6th 2013 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            That’s speculation, not evidence.
            And a 10 month old article from the Daily Heil? Hardly conclusive.

          • Roar Guru

            August 6th 2013 @ 12:22pm
            Sam Brown said | August 6th 2013 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

            Firstly, that article doesn’t even actually accuse Wiggo of doping, secondly if you mean Wiggo did similar times to Armstrong in a time trial then I wouldn’t say that is proof of something suspect given Wiggins comes from a TT and track background making TTs his biggest strength whereas Armstrong needed to work a lot harder to develop his time trial ability, it wasn’t his original strength. If Wiggo was riding up Alpe-D’uez in the same time as Armstrong it may be a different case but looking at the tape of him struggling up last year I doubt he matches Armstrong on the slopes.

            • August 6th 2013 @ 12:34pm
              Andrew said | August 6th 2013 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

              “Wiggo”. You decriminalise him and forgive him of his crimes by giving him a nickname, did go the same times in the mountains as Armstrong. He and Froome were pushing 500 watts up the biggest hills and mountains just like Armstrong. Blokes would go past him and “Wiggo” would say, don’t worry about trying to catch him, he can’t go over 500 watts for more than 5 minutes. “Wiggo” was doing the same amount of watts for about an hour. So “Wiggo” was either superhuman for a year or “Wiggo” was on drugs. You decide.

              “Wiggo”,s times were comparable to Armstrong on the mountians. Yet we ostracise Armstong and believe “Wiggo”. Oh that is right, we used to believe Armstrong until it all became too much.

              “Wiggo” followed the exact same programme as Armstong too. Even stayed in the same hotels as Armstrong while training in the Maldives.

              But it is the history of Cycling fans to defend their men until the absolute last second; then they cut them lose like social lepers aka Stuart O’Grady.

              • August 6th 2013 @ 12:50pm
                sittingbison said | August 6th 2013 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

                Andrew, that would be Sir Wiggo 😉

    • Roar Guru

      August 6th 2013 @ 11:19am
      HardcorePrawn said | August 6th 2013 @ 11:19am | ! Report

      I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to see Wiggo in OGE colours, he does have pretty strong links to Australia after all…

    • August 6th 2013 @ 12:54pm
      sittingbison said | August 6th 2013 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

      Tim, the only bit that holds water is “Sir Wiggo knows what it takes to transform from trackie 4000m individual pursuit to roadie TdF champion and Olympic Gold in the Individual Time Trial”

      after all the years prior to 2009 riding in the gruppetto, “knowing what it takes” meant he was well prepared 😉 from 2009

    • August 6th 2013 @ 9:34pm
      BendySheep said | August 6th 2013 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

      Tim – I think Wiggins would be a great fit for OGE, even if he can be a bit Mardy and is unlikely to join in on the air guitar. Not sure that he’ll leave SKY though as he could easily reset his ambitions and add to his palmares in other ways. Would a slightly heavier, more powerful Wiggins be able to deliver some Spring classics success for SKY and should that be where he aims?

      • Columnist

        August 6th 2013 @ 11:10pm
        Tim Renowden said | August 6th 2013 @ 11:10pm | ! Report

        He has indicated he wants to target the classics, especially Paris-Roubaix. We’ll never know unless he tries, but I question whether he has the explosiveness required to win classics – can he match the likes of Boonen, Sagan or Cancellara for raw power on the shorter climbs, and can he outsprint them to win races?

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