Sunday, 22 July 2012

Bradley Wiggins - Tour de France winner....

As Bradley Wiggins crossed the finish line to win the final time trial in Chartes yesterday, the victory confirmed him as the first British rider to win the Tour de France, the toughest sporting event in the world - first held in 1903 it has long been thought that no one from these shores could ever manage the feat. Indeed, no Briton has even stood on the podium before, and now it looks a certainty that today we will see a British one-two and hopefully Mark Cavendish will take the final stage on the Champs Elysees to seal a historic hat-trick.

Wiggins winning margin of 1 minute 16 seconds on the penultimate day was a dazzling display of power and concentration - the emotion as he crossed the line punching the air was palpable as was his post stage press conference. "I'm just Bradley Wiggins" he said "I've dreamt of winning the tour since I was a kid, but growing up in London you never imagine you can do it"

He made it look so easy, carving through the French countryside at an average speed in excess of 30mph - Anybody watching might think - "I could do that" - have a go, it's hard!

Time trials are about maintaining a constant pace, like a continuous hum. But they are also about pain, an agonising heat that you feel in your stomach, a burning that affects your breathing. You get into a rhythm, and when the pain comes, you tunnel into it, exploring it to the bitter end. What with the discomfort and the heat some riders cross the finish line and throw themselves to the floor, it's all part of the same ache. From top to bottom, front to back you need to gather the pain into a small ball that spins around in your mind until the time trial is over. Pain in your muscles, a burning in the sole of your feet, an aching in the wrists, a stabbing in the neck from holding the head in one position. There isn't a second to relax or stretch or move your hands. You have to go on, and on, in the same position. If you need to spit it has to be done by twisting the mouth sideways to avoid moving the head. You fix your eyes on an arbitrary landmark - a tree, a point on a bend, and say Until I get there I'm not going to change position. And before you get there you fix to another point....

Well done Bradley - we're all proud of your achievement!

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