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Bradley Wiggins has admitted that if he had carried on holding onto a lifestyle and mentality of an elite athlete then he would “be in a very bad place now.”
Wiggins was speaking ahead of the Tour de France during a roundtable interview with the European press late last week.
The winner of the 2012 Tour de France was asked about the current crop of riders within the peloton and how he would have fared against the likes of Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič had he competed against them. Wiggins was at pains to compare his athletic peak to riders of the current era, stating that he was completely removed from that life and mentality.
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“I can’t really associate the rider that I was and the person, and I look at it now and it feels worlds apart. I can’t imagine doing that again. I’m not in the mindset of saying ‘fuck it I’d do this and I’d attack them here and I’d attack them there’ because I’m just in awe of them and I’m so detatched from that era that I can’t answer that question with any sincerity,” he said.
“I might say I’d never beat them but that might be betraying my former self because I don’t know what the Wiggo of 2012 would have said. Or how he would have handled it. That’s one of the downsides of being on the moto, in that I’m so close to it, so can’t imagine that I did that.”
Wiggins was also asked about the relationship that he had with his past achievements.
He became the first male British rider to ever win the Tour de France in 2012 but at times during that race he appeared to struggle under the strain of wearing the yellow jersey.
He was attacked by his teammate Chris Froome in the mountains and lashed out at those who dared to question the validity of his performances. Sean Yates famously claimed that Wiggins even threatened to quit the Tour and go home, despite being in the yellow jersey.
“It’s good. I’m very proud of them: I’ve come to terms with them, I accept them,” Wiggins said, 10 years after his Tour win.
“They’re part of my life. I was a different person then but not in a sort of massive, deep sense. The mindset of an elite athlete is so abnormal, and not a healthy one, but it’s what makes the achievement so remarkable, and it’s what draws people to the sport. I’m so far removed from it now. I think the sad thing is that if I’d stayed in that mindset, I’d be in a very bad place now. It’s why you achieve greatness, really. It’s at the expense of everything else. I can’t account for the person that I was then off the bike because it’s what made me good on the bike. That’s very difficult.”