PARIS (VN) — Bradley Wiggins says recent revelations in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal have soured him after winning the race with which the Texan became synonymous each July.
The 2012 Tour de France champion said the Armstrong Affair is unfairly casting him and the sport in a negative light, and even suggested that his historic Tour win this summer has become a double-edged sword.
“There’s a bit of a damper on it in light of what’s happened recently, to be honest. There have been times I wished I had never won the Tour,” Wiggins said. “(The Armstrong scandal) doesn’t take away from my victory. As winner of the Tour de France now, you are subjected to a lot of other things and it goes beyond sport, which is not why I set out to win the Tour de France. My life’s changed quite a bit back home, for the worse in some cases, for the better in some. It’s not been easy.”
Wiggins has been discreet in his public comments on the Armstrong scandal since an interview with Sky TV three weeks ago, but he did expand on his thoughts after attending the presentation for the 2013 Tour de France route.
“As you get older, you eventually realize that Father Christmas doesn’t exist, and that was always the case with Lance,” Wiggins said. “That’s the way the sport was then. They were all doing what they needed to do to try to win the race. It was a bigger race off the bike, in that sense, than it was on the bike.”
Wiggins, who last year became the first British rider to win the Tour, said an Armstrong confession would help the sport turn the page on the EPO era, but he’s not holding his breath.
“I think it would help; everyone knows he’s a stubborn man,” he said. “I don’t think he would confess. There’s too much to lose for himself if he does, but the evidence speaks for itself. It seems pretty overwhelming.”
The Armstrong Affair was the center of conversation among most media attending the Tour presentation Wednesday in Paris.
As the defending Tour champion, Wiggins was the center of the spotlight. A herd of British journalists took the Chunnel Train from London to Paris to attend the flashy ceremony.
Wiggins admitted there is a sense of frustration among current pros that have to answer questions about what happened a decade ago.
“I think there is a lot of anger. It’s a sport that I love and it’s a shame that cycling is being dragged through this again. It’s not a shame that he’s been caught, because obviously it had to come out at some point,” Wiggins said. “It’s a shame [for] us riders here now, and I think I speak for everybody, we’re the ones picking up the pieces now. Now we have to convince people that the sport has changed. It is difficult to convince some people, it really is, because of a precedent that’s there. Now someone is expected to take the blame for that. It’s out there now. Hopefully the sport will move forward. Cycling isn’t like that anymore.”
Wiggins preferred to talk about the future, not the past, on Wednesday and he said that his plan for 2013 will be very different than in 2012.
After making history as the first British Tour winner — and the first rider to win Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné in a single season — Wiggins says he is taking a new challenge and will take aim for the Giro d’Italia.
Wiggins confirmed that he would race the Giro to win, and then see what happens in the Tour de France.
“I will be going to the Giro 100 percent,” he said. “That was always the plan since the Olympics, to try to win the Giro. How that affects my chances at the Tour, I don’t know. It’s very difficult to compete at the top level in two grand tours in one year.”
Wiggins has raced the Giro four times, and won the pink jersey in the Amsterdam prologue in 2010, when he beat American Brent Bookwalter by two seconds.
He said the history and allure of the Giro make it a natural next step in his professional trajectory.
“The Giro is for me is as historical as the Tour de France. It’s one that I would like to add to my palmarès. I’ve conquered the Tour,” he said. “It was always about winning one Tour de France. I’d like to go to the Giro now and see what I can do there.”