Sky’s the limit as Brad chalks name beside Tour legends

Bradley Wiggins is already seeking further glory after yesterday celebrating the greatest achievement of his career as the first British winner of the Tour de France.

In 1993 a 13-year-old Wiggins caught the Eurostar from London to Paris with his mother and watched by the Champs-Élysées as Miguel Indurain won the third of his five Tour titles.

Now the 32-year-old, after claiming a first yellow jersey, is keen to add to his haul of three Olympic gold medals, and help world champion Mark Cavendish win the road race in London next Saturday.

Wiggins said: “I never imagined that 19 years later I’d be coming down there in the same position.

“It sounds cliched and pathetic, but it’s the childhood stuff of dreams. It’s what I’ve dreamed of for 20 years and never ever thought it could become reality.

“It’s almost a kind of disbelief that this is really happening.

“A lot of it is goose pimple stuff. When you come on there [the Champs-Élysées] and the roar, even when you finish last in the Tour.

“But to come on in the yellow jersey surrounded by the guys who have put me there, with all my family there...”

It is difficult for Wiggins to articulate his feelings after a momentous 13th day in the maillot jaune, but one thing is certain — he wants to build on his success.

He added: “I’ve got a couple more years and I want to keep this momentum going and think about my goals for next year. But it’s not the time to think about it now. It’s way too early.”

Wiggins intends to ride on to September’s world championships in Limburg, Holland, but first the Olympics is his priority.

After leading out Cavendish to victory in the French capital yesterday, Wiggins intends to do the same in Saturday’s 250km Olympic road race.

Wiggins’ Olympic priority, however, is the time-trial on Wednesday week, but after demonstrating a full range of talents at the Tour, he sees no reason he cannot do the same in London.

He added about his time-trial performance on Saturday where he blitzed the field: “I’ve just done a world-class time-trial, averaging a ridiculous amount of power, after three weeks’ bike racing and two really tough Pyrenees stages, a 222km stage at 44kph average speed with a leadout in the final [on Friday to Brive-la-Gaillarde, as Cavendish won].

“Once you start thinking in those terms, that you’re so fit and you’ve trained for the demands of the three weeks and you’ve actually got three days off in between the road race and the time-trial, it shouldn’t be a problem.

“If anything, I’m going to be fresher.”

Imperious victories in the Tour’s two long time-trials, stage nine to Besancon and the penultimate day to Chartres, have given Wiggins the belief that a fourth Olympic gold, after three on the track, could be close.

“If I’m 100% honest, it’s gold or nothing in London now,” said Wiggins, who, with six, is equal with Steve Redgrave as the Briton with the most Olympic medals.

“That’s the way I’m treating the next nine days. I’ve set a precedent now for performances.

“I can’t sit and say I’ll be happy with a silver, or happy with a bronze.”

Wiggins’ performance has captured the public imagination and he takes pleasure from the thought that someone watching will use him as inspiration, like he did with Indurain.

“It’s nice because you are actually doing something with your life that is inspirational,” he added.

“I don’t want to be a role model as a person, because I’m only human at the end of the day. I don’t want to break people’s perception of me if I do something they don’t like.

“In a sporting sense, fire away. Love me to bits.”

Wiggins’ win proved, without question, he was the strongest rider of the three weeks and sowed the seeds for victory when he placed second in the prologue by a mere seven seconds before taking the yellow jersey on stage seven from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles — a stage won by Chris Froome.

The Londonder cemented his superiority by emphatically winning the stage nine time-trial by 35 seconds from Froome, with Evans one minute 43 seconds adrift, and increasing his overall lead to 1min 53secs.

He then had to see off a fusillade of attacks on three difficult mountain stages, the most critical of which was on stage 11 to La Toussuire when he stretched his lead over Evans to 3:19. Saturday’s time-trial was merely a victory procession.

Yesterday’s stage was won by Wiggins’ team-mate Cavendish, who sealed victory on the Champs-Élysées for a fourth consecutive year.

Irish duo Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin avoided any late drama and stormed into Paris tucked in the bunch, a sight Martin’s father Neil — himself an ex-professional, found quite emotional. “I’m as hard as nails, tough as old boots, rockhard etc... but did I have a bit of a weep when Dan swept onto the Champs Elysee? #ofcourse.

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