Sunday, 22 July 2012
Cadel Evans unwittingly helped sew the seeds of his own demise a year ago, inspiring Brad Wiggins with an historic Tour de France win.
Just as Evans was the first Australian to win the Tour last year, on Sunday Wiggins will become the first British rider to achieve cycling's highest honour.
After Wiggins won Saturday's time trial to all but confirm his overall victory, he again mentioned the inspiration that Evans gave him.
Evans has struggled in this Tour and will finish seventh overall.
Wiggins crashed out early in last year's Tour with a broken collarbone and then watched the rest of the race on television.
"I watched Cadel in Grenoble win the Tour," Wiggins said.
"I was inspired, I was a kid again. That's what cycling is about."
An emotional Wiggins also said his Australian father Gary was on his mind during Saturday's time trial.
Gary, a former track rider who died in suspicious circumstances in country NSW four years ago, left his wife and son when Brad was a toddler.
They always had a tenuous relationship, but scrapbooks full of Brad's cycling exploits were found in Gary's flat after his death.
"The last 10km I was thinking about things to spur me on to go even harder," Wiggins said of his time trial.
"I was just thinking back to my childhood, my father leaving us when I was a kid, growing up with my mum in a flat and then my grandfather brought me up.
"He was my father, my role model."
Wiggins, a straight-talking character, alluded to the sport's doping scourge when he responded to criticisms that this Tour had been boring.
Wiggins' Sky team have dominated the race.
"If we're riding 450 watts, someone would need to sustain 500 watts in a 20-minute climb to stay away," Wiggins said.
"It's not possible anymore, unless you've got an extra couple of litres of blood."
Wiggins beat teammate Chris Froome emphatically in the time trial by a minute and 16 seconds, ending speculation about whether Sky were right in making Wiggins their Tour leader.
Froome was stronger in the mountains, but Wiggins' overall margin was 3:21.
Even allowing for the 1:20 that Froome lost with a stage-one puncture, Wiggins is a worthy winner and he again dismissed speculation of rivalry between them.
"The truth is that Chris and I had lunch together before the time trial today," he said.
"There is no problem.
"The reason we've been good for the last three weeks is that we've ridden together as a team."
After his media conference ended, Wiggins suddenly returned to the stage.
"I know I can be a pain in the arse at times with the press, I am only human," he said.
"But I just wanted to say thanks to everyone ... for putting up with me - all year, actually."