Considering that Bradley Wiggins is a music fanatic, it’s ironic he’s so tone deaf. We might tack on a noticeable lack of self-awareness and for clinical purposes, an issue with his memory.
How else to characterize his recent clueless quotes about his Continental Team Wiggins cycling team and how different it is in personality and style than his experiences at Sky.
“This is not just about a racing team; it’s about engaging with the public. I’ve always said we’re the people’s team – we don’t want to be hidden behind black screens at the start and in big buses, not talking to anyone or having a big PR team spouting rubbish at you every day.”
That’s an almost priceless statement from Sir Wiggo, a man famous for general crabbiness with cycling fans and cycling media. He was the first one to take refuge in the Team Sky bus and the last one off, preferring to remain as far from the “people” as possible.
“It’s about engaging with people, talking to people and a presentation like this – there’s no segregation,” said Wiggins at a team event. “We want to be a bit different to everyone else and try to break down barriers a little bit,” said Wiggins, not seeming to reflect on his own past behavior.
Again, a quote that’s pure comedy when compared to his own actions when he wore the black and blue of Sky. Wiggins certainly never won any awards for accessibility and had little interest in connecting with fans unless it was on his limited terms.
Perhaps we can be more generous if we consider Wiggins as just another victim of the Sky approach to cycling — robotic, condescending, humorless, obsessed with sports science. After reading his My Time autobiography, it’s clear he was miserable even when he was winning big big races.
The grind, the time away from family, the team dynamics around him and Froome — it all seemed to sour him on pro cycling at the WorldTour level. So there are plenty of reasons for Wiggins’ desire to breath some fresh life and humanity and personality into the sport.
“This sport is becoming too serious. Everything’s about results and power meters and skinsuits and aero helmets. I want to take it back to what cycling used to be about when Hinault and that got changed in the back of a car; you could go up to the riders and talk to them,” said Wiggins. “You can’t get near them anymore because of how popular they are.”
Wiggins is waxing nostalgic about the good old days. Life was simpler, people were friendlier, riders didn’t hide in buses and brush past fans like they were lepers. Just asking: was Hinault super friendly back in the day or was he the pugnacious and combative fellow who’d later throw people off stage at bike races? Ahh, memories.
That’s all well and good and perhaps Wiggins even regrets his aloofness and disregard for cycling fans and the media in the past. Still, it’s hard to take Wiggins as the leader of the new soft and fuzzy, “connect with people” movement in cycling. Is he going from Mod to Model citizen?
“I’m very nostalgic, and I always hold onto why I got into something, but it’s so far removed from that now. It’s a shame, but I’ve got the opportunity to do something about that, make it fun again, interesting and engaging with people, which is what I think the sport is lacking at the moment.”
So there you have it. Sir Bradley Wiggins has had some kind of deep religious conversion. Suddenly, overnight, without warning, he’s turned into a teddy bear.