Having become the most decorated Olympic athlete in British sports history, Sir Bradley Wiggins is enjoying recounting tales from a highly-eventful career as one of cycling’s most high-profile figures in a live tour which hits Harrogate nexty month.
Neill Barston spoke to him ahead of his Bradley Wiggins: An Evening With tour after the sporting legend had rejoined the fray as an expert pundit covering this year's Tour de France.
Being back amid the action covering one of cycling’s ultimate tests at this year’s Tour de France proved highly memorable for the sporting hero.
The five-time Olympic gold medal winner was in his element across the channel, describing it as an outstanding highlight of his experience in the sport.
However, as he concedes, he doesn’t miss the intensity of preparing for one of the world’s most celebrated yet gruelling spectacles.
So this time around felt poignant for the champion cyclist, witnessing his former teammate Geraint Thomas narrowly miss out on gaining what would have been a second victory in the stellar French race.
Sir Bradley said: “Covering the tour made me realise just how much I love it – when you are competing there’s a lot of emotion taken up with it all in dealing with the event to cross the line.
"It’s actually hard to get excited at the end of a race, so going back to it without all the pressure and watching it as a fan was great,” says the record-breaking athlete.
His current live shows sees the British sporting great reflecting on one of the most eventful careers in cycling history.
Seven years after his own career-defining victory in France, he says it was encouraging to gain such a warm reception from crowds.
Despite this, he adds his commentating stint this summer couldn’t possibly tempt him out of retirement and prompt him to don his racing kit once again.
Sir Bradley said: "Going back to the tour and seeing some of those climbs brought back memories of just how hard it is. While people can make it look easy, it really isn’t, especially when you see guys getting taken out of the peloton, and some of crashes you witness. It can be brutal."
He says that at 36 (he is now 39), it was not a difficult decision three years ago to walk away from the sport at a high point, enabling him to fully focus on the challenges of raising a young family with his wife at their home in Lancashire.
While the celebrity status following his unprecedented back-to- back victory at the Tour de France and London Olympics in 2012 may not have sat entirely comfortably with him, the wider effect of ‘Wiggo’s win’ was clearly tangible. It saw cycling in the UK enjoy a significant resurgence that is showing no sign of subsiding.
The achievement led to his knighthood in 2013, which he built upon further at the Rio Olympics with a final gold as part of the winning British team pursuit squad.
Wiggins is focusing on a number of projects including sports broadcasting and setting forth on his nationwide Bradley Wiggins: An Evening With tour this September.
He’ll be reflecting on his lengthy career, and discussing some of his own heroes who feature in his latest book, Icons, who have proved an inspiration along the way.
Sir Bradley said: "These subjects and plenty more besides will come under the microscope as Sir Bradley offers up some insights into his eventful career on his audience with UK tour.
"Expect plenty of memorabilia and anecdotes of racing rivalries that will offer a very personal window into his world.
“I’ve been enjoying doing these shows as I like to break down perceptions. I feel you never really know someone until you’ve heard their story properly.
“It gives me chance to meet people, and I can particularly remember speaking to one guy in Nottingham. He said his wife would really have loved the show, but she hadn’t made it as she had just died of cancer, so I just told him that she was right there with him.
"So with these kinds of shows, people see your emotions and I am looking forward to getting out there again."
Bradley Wiggins: An Evening With - Monday, September 23 at the Royal Hall in Harrogate.