Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Can Wiggo get the Gold??...
At the end of the most surreal week of his life, no one could ever accuse Bradley Wiggins of not putting in one final, gut-wrenching shift to seal his seven life-changing days with a golden flourish.
But as he hung off his bike on The Mall, head down and looking utterly shattered by both the physical effort and dejection of failing to deliver for Mark Cavendish, Britain had to hope that after the time of his life, the three-time champion still has enough gas in the tank to launch his last bid for Olympic glory in today's time trial.
Wiggins had punched the air like Superman in Chartres at the climax to the time trial to celebrate his historic Tour de France triumph and all the way through to last Friday night when he was invited to ring the giant bell to launch the Games’ opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium while wearing his 'maillot jaune', the fresh icon may have felt he was living in a weird wonderland that Danny Boyle had invented especially for him.
Even lining up on The Mall on Saturday, it must have felt bizarre to find himself on his bike chatting away to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and then watching as they went over to chat to his mum Linda. Odder still? Just six days after he had stood on the Champs-Elysees hailed as the world’s greatest all-round cyclist, he then found himself effectively being asked to be a dogsbody for Cavendish around the Surrey hills.
Wiggins’s efforts did feel little short of heroic. Just as Cavendish had shuttled water bottles around the mountains for Wiggins’ benefit in the Tour, he returned the compliment on Box Hill, collecting bottles to deliver to the troops. He never stopped digging for his pal.
Then, long after the Tour runner-up Chris Froome had given up the ghost with 27km left and trailed home over 12 minutes behind, Wiggins was still motoring away with that monstrous engine trying to help Ian Stannard haul back the gap on the run-in to central London.
Only with about 5km left, looking spent and realising the game was up, did he finally began to stop trying and coasted home in 103rd place, a minute and 17 sec adrift.
Quite indefatigable, Wiggins has pooh-poohed the idea that such a massive effort might compromise his chances in the time trial but he did not have the same luxury of German world champion Tony Martin, who pulled out early to save his energy.
If Bradley Wiggins secures us our first Gold of the games today he will also become Britains most decorated Olympian - overshadowing Steve Redgrave - but can he do it?? - I'm hoping he can - the perfect close to a perfect, historic, record-breaking season. Allez Allez Wiggo!!!!!