Wiggins: Armstrong confession can help clean up the sport

AT 32, the Tour champ says he is motivated and has plenty of years ahead of him on the bike

MADRID (AFP) — Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins says he thinks Lance Armstrong’s doping confession is catastrophic but will serve to make the sport cleaner in the future.

Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France himself, was stripped of his titles after the Union Cycliste Internationale accepted a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that he had doped when winning his seven Tours between 1999 and 2005.

The American then confessed that he had taken performance enhancing drugs in an interview with TV host Oprah Winfrey.

But despite the scandal being just the latest doping issue to affect the sport, Wiggins said he is hopeful the future of cycling will be clean in an interview published Thursday in Spanish sports daily Marca.

“In the short term, the sensation is that it is catastrophic and generates bad press. Moreover, with every scandal a lot of people who don’t know about cycling chip in with their opinions,” he told the paper after his first four days of competitive action this season in the Mallorca Challenge.

“However, in the long term it is good. If my son decides to become a cyclist when he turns professional the sport will be cleaner,” he said. “Actions speak louder than words. We have to keep doing things as we are just now and believe that in the future things will be better.”

Wiggins had an extraordinary 2012. On top of becoming the first Briton to win the Tour, he also won his fourth Olympic gold medal, in the time trial at London 2012.

This year, though, he has set himself new targets, including the implausible double of winning the Tour and the Giro d’Italia back-to-back.

“Why not? Every day I am more convinced that it is possible. To win the Giro and the Tour in the same season is an incentive that motivates me. I can’t think about what I have achieved as a professional but rather I have to give myself new targets that inspire me to work harder every day,” he said. “The objectives are different and I will do other races that I didn’t last year, but the motivation and the will to win remain the same and that’s what matters.”

At 32, Wiggins isn’t exactly a rising star of the cycling circuit, but he still believes he has plenty of years left at the top of the sport.

“Physically, I have still not reached my peak, but the question now, at 32 years of age, is more mental than physical,” he said. “What matters is knowing what you most want to do and how much you want to work to achieve it. Luckily, I have many years ahead of me.”