Cy­cling leg­end Wig­gins bows out

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Lon­don

Cy­cling leg­end Bradley Wig­gins, Bri­tain’s first Tour de France win­ner and the coun­try’s most dec­o­rated Olympian, an­nounced his re­tire­ment on Wed­nes­day say­ing he had “reached the end of the road”.

The 36-year-old who won the 2012 Tour bows out with eight Olympic medals, in­clud­ing five golds, and seven world ti­tles in track and road cy­cling.

“I have been lucky enough to live a dream and re­al­ize my child­hood as­pi­ra­tion of mak­ing a liv­ing and a ca­reer out of the sport I fell in love with at the age of 12,” Wig­gins said on his Face­book page.

“I’ve met my idols and rid­den with and along­side the best for 20 years. I have worked with the world’s best coaches and man­agers, who I will al­ways be grate­ful to for their sup­port.”

The an­nounce­ment came amid new scru­tiny over ther­a­peu­tic ex­emp­tions for banned sub­stances Wig­gins took dur­ing his peak years.

No al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing have been lev­eled against Wig­gins, nick­named ‘ Wiggo’, who carved out his place in his­tory as the only cy­clist to have won world and Olympic gold medals on both track and road.

His other achievements in­clude the world track hour record, set in June 2015, and wear­ing the leader’s jer­sey in each of the three Grand Tours.

He also jointly holds the world record in the team pur­suit.

Wig­gins’ finest hour came in 2012, when he fol­lowed up Tour de France suc­cess by win­ning time-trial gold at the 2012 Olympics in his home city of Lon­don.

“What will stick with me for­ever is the sup­port and love from the public through thick and thin, all as a re­sult of rid­ing a bike for a liv­ing,” Wig­gins said.

“It was a gas in 2012; it blew my mind. Cy­cling has given me ev­ery­thing and I couldn’t have done it with­out the sup­port of my won­der­ful wife Cath and our amaz­ing kids.

“This is the end of the road for this chap­ter, on­wards and up­wards, feet on the ground, head in the clouds. Kids from Kil­burn don’t win Olympic Golds and Tour de Frances! They do now.”

Bob How­den, pres­i­dent of Bri­tish Cy­cling, said Wig­gins has as­sured his place in his­tory, say­ing “few sports peo­ple have had the im­pact on life in this coun­try as Sir Bradley Wig­gins”.

“He re­tires as one of Bri­tish sport’s great cham­pi­ons, not just for the medals and the sheer di­ver­sity of races he won but also for the way in which he used his achievements to in­spire so many peo­ple to be­come ac­tive by get­ting on their bikes.”

Born in Ghent, Bel­gium, to an Aus­tralian cy­clist fa­ther and a Bri­tish mother, Wig­gins was raised in Kil­burn, north­west Lon­don, and rose to be­come a Bri­tish sports icon.

His stylish side­burns and ir­rev­er­ent public pro­nounce­ments made him a beloved fig­ure and he was knighted by Queen El­iz­a­beth in 2013.

Wig­gins bowed out at the Ghent Six Day last month, hav­ing taken his tally of Olympic gold medals to five with vic­tory in the team pur­suit at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

But the fi­nal months of his ca­reer have been over­shad­owed by whis­pers about shady prac­tices dur­ing his time with Team Sky, which co­in­cided with the most suc­cess­ful pe­riod of his ca­reer.

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