The ever-changing moods of Sir Bradley Wiggins

Wiggo bounces back with stunning Tour of California stage win

Heroic one minute, distinctly disinterested the next – Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian, Sir Bradley Wiggins, is a cycling enigma.

Sporting deity in 2012, Wiggins was untouchable as he racked up win after win on his way to the Tour de France yellow jersey and Olympic time trial gold.

Yet the following year, the Team Sky man was largely anonymous – disinterested in Oman, out-of-touch and then ultimately abandoning the Giro d’Italia, and missing the Tour de France in a year in which he would have defended the title.

Highs and lows: Bradley Wiggins is a sporting enigma. pic: ©Paul Hayes-Watkins

Until victory at the Tour of Britain, Wiggins had fallen almost from hero to zero with Chris Froome replacing him as Team Sky’s bona fide leader.

It is a path trodden before – world Madison champion alongside Mark Cavendish in 2008, the Manxman was left frustrated and dejected when a below-par effort from Wiggins at the Olympics cost them the chance of a gold medal.

Back in 2010, in Sky’s first year as a WorldTour team, Wiggins looked in great form at the Giro but his below-par performance at the Tour raised questions about the team’s boasts he could be Britain’s first Tour de France winner.

World time trial silver at the back end of last year went some way to making amends on that occasion, and led us to consider how the 34-year-old could recapture his mojo.

But a lack of early-season form, absences and changes to his race programme dampened expectations once again.

Now, however, Wiggins is back.

Ninth at Paris-Roubaix, after some among even his most ardent supporters considered it a race unsuited to his serene style, was a solid result – and his performance certainly suggested he would be more than capable of challenging for the Classics had he ever opted for that path.

Bradley Wiggins delivered a performance at Roubaix that was arguably his best since winning the 2012 Tour de France pic: ©Sirotti

And the result appears to have buoyed Wiggins in what could be his fifth and final year with Team Sky.

His time trial victory at the Tour of California was comprehensive to say the least.

Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), a perennial second-place finisher against the clock in the last 12 months, and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) – time trial winner at the Dubai Tour – were the only two riders to come within a minute of Wiggins’ time.

Over a distance of just more than 20 kilometres, that is a remarkable result and gives him a commanding lead overall.

It was not just in winning the stage he impressed either. Wiggins had been instrumental in shaping stage one, too – his and Team Sky’s aggression causing splits in the bunch earlier on.

We asked whether the presence of British greats Wiggins and Cavendish in California could help the American fans recapture their love and trust for the sport.

With stage wins for both in the first two days, they are certainly playing their part.

For Wiggins however, it would appear the effect has been reciprocated – California, like Paris-Roubaix beforehand, has given him a new goal to aim for.

And with his mood up, his form is up and Wiggins appears to be back to his phenomenal, unbeatable best.

Take a look at some of Wiggins’ highs and lows over the following pages.

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