By Neal Rogers
In the cutthroat pro peloton, Garmin-Slipstream rider Bradley Wiggins is the exception — a non-stop joker with outside interests in music, fashion, Mod-era scooters and when he’s not preparing for a race, a pint or two of beer.
Take, for example, this exchange between the British rider and a TV reporter prior to the start of Thursday’s fourth stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. (Background info: British Sky Broadcasting, the sponsor of the new-for-2010 British cycling team Sky, is the United Kingdom’s largest pay-TV provider.)
TV reporter: There’s been a lot of talk about you moving to Sky after the season. What’s the plan for next year?
Wiggins: Well I’ve still got a contract with Sky for about another year. The wife wants the movie package, and I’ve just got the sports package at the moment. We’ll see. The kids like all the cartoons like Disney Channel and all that, so we’ll probably keep it for another year. But I think TNT has a new package when you can get the movies, the sports channels and all the other stuff for like a combo value; it’s 49 quid a month. We’ll see. I don’t know. I’m thinking of changing my Garmin to Tom Tom as well.
Like its rider, Wiggins’ Felt F1 SL race bike is a bit of an oddity. Instead of standard Dura-Ace chain rings Wiggins prefers an asymmetric chain ring from French manufacturer O.Symetric, which supposedly eliminates the “dead spot” in a rider’s pedal stroke. He also uses Shimano’s new Di2 electronic system, a carbon prototype Shimano Dura-Ace pedal, and double bar tape wrap.
Of the asymmetric chain rings, Wiggins said he’s been riding the 52/42 combo since the start of the 2009 season. “I threw them on before Paris-Nice, and I really took to them,” he said. “I don’t know if they actually work, or do anything, but it’s kind of like a sensation, really. It’s sort of like a fixed-wheel kind of feeling.”
Wiggins was more emphatic of the Di2 system, however, which he called “brilliant.”
“I absolutely love it,” he said. “It’s kind of strange to go back to mechanical (shifting) on the winter bike. It’s absolutely brilliant.”
He had less to say about his prototype pedals, simply offering that the carbon-infused pedal body was lighter.
What’s not lighter is a second roll of bar tape, however Wiggins said he prefers the extra comfort.
Then again, with Wiggins, sometimes it’s hard to know what to make of his answers.
“Take everything I say with a pinch of salt,” Wiggins told the TV reporter. “Don’t believe a word half the time. I haven’t got a serious bone in me body.”