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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the December 2014 issue of Velo magazine, the annual awards issue.
When Bradley Wiggins won the 2012 Tour de France, eyebrows raised. A two-time Olympic gold medalist in the individual pursuit, an all-out four-minute effort, had come out on top in a three-week stage race that covered both the Pyrenees and the Alps. Wiggins won that Tour on the strength of his time trial, the byproduct of years spent in a highly aerodynamic position on the track.
A 2013 season marked by poor performances, injury, and soured relations with Sky leader Chris Froome left Wiggins as a bit of an exile on his own team, an active Tour champion without a true direction. As early as February, Wiggins was citing both Paris-Roubaix and the Amgen Tour of California as season objectives; even then, the writing was on the wall that he would not likely be selected for Sky’s Tour team.
Some scoffed at the idea that Wiggins could also tackle the cobblestones, perhaps forgetting his admirable 25th place at the 2009 edition. But when Wiggins finished 32nd at the Tour of Flanders, 1:43 down on the lead group, his Roubaix ambitions suddenly seemed within reach.
A strong headwind at Roubaix helped keep a large group together, and though he wasn’t exactly sprinting for the win, Wiggins finished ninth, in the front group, the first active Tour winner to attempt the pavé since Greg LeMond in 1992.
A month later, Wiggins delivered on his second stated goal, winning the Amgen Tour of California on the strength of a dominant time trial, then holding his own against Rohan Dennis on two summit finishes.
Left off Sky’s Tour team, Wiggins regrouped for the Tour of Britain, where he won the time trial and finished third overall; he capped off his season with his first ever win at the world time trial championship, besting longtime TT nemesis Tony Martin by 26 seconds over a 47km course.
In all, Wiggins won a stage race, a world championship, and placed in the top 10 at the Hell of the North. Not bad for a “trackie.”