Bradley chats in the Union chamberNordin Catic

It’s very easy to put people on pedestals. Going into this interview, I was expecting the Bradley Wiggins of 2012 with a thin frame and sideburns. I was greeted by blue tattoos, a stocky build (from rowing) and an unvarnished but warm demeanour. The ice broke quickly. Wiggins is a self-declared “Guinness man”. He doesn’t have a favourite meal (“It depends what day of the week it is”) but he’s definitely not going vegan – “Don’t insult me”. He has a bracing honesty and shared deeply personal insights over the course of our conversation. It also clearly came across that he is on a journey of self-reflection and improvement, and has been working to overcome personal issues stemming from his childhood trauma and the pressures of high-octane cycling.

“My dad was a professional cyclist,” Wiggins explained as we touched on the influences that propelled his cycling career. After his parents divorced in 1982, the young Bradley had no contact with father, Gary, for 14 years. “My mum brought me up talking about him. She really glorified his cycling traits and how good he was – so I grew up idolising him.” Aged 12, he entered his first race and from then on “I never thought I would do anything else.”

It was clear that Wiggins does not wear the mantle of being a celebrity comfortably. “Life was never the same again after the 1st of August 2012 [the day he won an Olympic gold medal],” he explained: “It was horrible. I couldn’t prepare for what happened and I’ve lived with that ever since.” Touching on the issue of self-esteem, he spelled out how he struggled with being compared to his idols such as Miguel Induráin. Growing up: “I never considered that I would ever be able to do something like that. Part of me will never get my head round that because I’m thrust back to being a teenager and pictures of those guys on my walls.”

I also sensed frustration at being tied to his former career. “I finished cycling at 36, you get stuck in that definition of who you are for the rest of your life. I haven’t ridden a bike for six years. Funny how you get tagged with that forever.” Since retirement, Wiggins notoriously said that he hated cycling, so I pushed him to clarify his comments. “It’s portrayed as this big happy family but it’s not. It’s just a functioning machine. Everyone wants to win.” This has been intensified by huge injections of finance into the sport, meaning riders are competing for money as well as glory. “Once there’s a lot of money at stake, it breeds bad blood.”

“I’d be quite happy stacking shelves at Tesco or Safeway.”

Wiggins also expressed regret at the character traits that professional cycling honed. “You have to be selfish. Everyone else second. Your life is the centre of the world in terms of everyone else around you. Everyone should be lucky to be around you. You’re so lucky to be married to Sir Bradley Wiggins. But, to be honest, you could be a bit of cunt, and you are a cunt.” Divorce and lockdown prompted a lot of soul-searching and Bradley was candid that he’s addressing issues in his personal life: “I realised what a dreadful person I was when I was cycling.”


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The challenging childhood and personal life that Bradley faced clearly motivate him to be a strong role model for his children. “Cycling’s not everything. I think it’s more important to be a stable role model.” Raising his daughter, Isabella, is the “priority of [his] life at the moment,” and he was also immensely proud when talking about his, son Ben, who secured gold at the European Track Championships at the age of 17. However, Wiggins stressed that besides cycling accolades: “[Ben] is already successful enough as a person for me.”

Wrapping up the interview, we discussed what Bradley has been doing recently and what his plans are for the future. Having been in the cycling world for 25 years, he has an evident desire to do something new. For example, for the past six months he has been working with the NSPCC on their Listen Up, Speak Up campaign to tackle child abuse.

“I haven’t got any plans at the moment, I’m in limbo a little bit. Right now I’m on the look-out, and if nothing comes along then I’ll get a proper job. I’d be quite happy stacking shelves at Tesco or Safeway.”

What I enjoyed the most about interviewing Bradley was that his ability to touch on sensitive issues didn’t constrain his lighthearted and self-deprecating sense of humour. He’s close friends with Mark Cavendish, so I asked him about the likelihood of the Manx Missile beating Eddie Merckx’s record for most Tour de France Stage wins. Bradley’s response was: “Mark was a bit fat this winter. It may take him a while to get going again”.