Tour de France winner Wiggins puts footballers to shame

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From: Barrie Frost, Watson’s Lane, Reighton, Filey.

UNTIL a few weeks ago, apart from racing cyclists and their followers, probably few people recognised the name Bradley Wiggins. Now, he is a household name, having achieved in many people’s eyes the greatest sporting victory of all – the first Briton to win the Tour de France (Yorkshire Post, July 23).

To be selected to compete in the Tour de France is a supreme acknowledgement of a cyclist’s ability; to win a stage is a fantastic achievement; to win the Tour is to join a very select group of quite amazing athletes.

It is almost impossible to understand just what Bradley Wiggins has achieved and to even begin to contemplate the very nature of the route that forms the tour. A distance of 2,173 miles covered in often torturous conditions in three weeks with temperatures ranging up to 40C and including several mountain climbs, which generally are about 11 miles long with an average gradient of 1:14.

Simply trying to imagine such climbs seems difficult enough, yet these cyclists regard these tests as a normal day’s work. In an entirely different discipline, the last time trial of the penultimate stage, which cemented Bradley Wiggins in a special hall of fame, was 33 miles long and was won at an average speed of more than 30mph. Cycling at that pace for that distance is almost beyond belief.

But, this victory was achieved in the finest of sporting traditions. When saboteurs threw tacks on the road causing many punctures for riders, including Cadel Evans, last year’s winner, Wiggins ordered the peloton, the main group of riders, to slow down in order to help an unfortunate rival. The French press have nicknamed him Le Patron of the Peloton and Le Gentleman.

The Tour involved 90 hours of racing with only two rest days out of the three weeks of the race. Despite several crashes there were no feigned injuries; no histrionics like those seen so frequently in football matches.

There were no complaints of tiredness, running on empty, staleness or having to do too much, yet in three weeks they raced for the equivalent time of 60 full football matches.

The prize money for winning the Tour de France is £350,000, just a few weeks’ wages for very ordinary footballers. This, I understand, will be shared among the whole Team Sky.

Wiggins will receive considerable, lucrative and much deserved sponsorship money 
on top of his contract of £1.2m. He will, no doubt, join the top five of cycling’s big earners who receive more than £2m annually. Doesn’t this really and very clearly show how utterly obscene the sums of £10m-plus are, which are paid to some footballers?

What a fantastic performance and the title Sportsman of the Year must, surely, be a foregone conclusion.

From: Eileen Botting, Bulmer, York.

SO Bradley Wiggins’s magnificent win and the British dominance of this year’s Tour provides “the perfect springboard” for bringing the event to Yorkshire, according to cycling legend Brian Robinson (Yorkshire Post, July 23). That is wonderful news.

In the same article, tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire estimates it could attract crowds of two million generating £300m. That also would be fantastic for the region, but not by hiking the prices by up to 300 per cent as they supposedly have done in the south for the Olympics. Let us show them that Tykes may be tight but not greedy!

From: Ken Holmes, Cliffe Common, Selby, York.

UNLIKE some of our sportsmen and women, England’s Tour de France cycle race winner, Bradley Wiggins, seems, when not riding a bike, to have his feet firmly on the ground. He says that after all, it is only sport and that there are more important things to life, for example returning home to the family and picking up the dog and horse muck.

Very well done, and said, Bradley. I have the T-shirt. Welcome to the club.

From: Brian Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.

THE only time Bradley Wiggins looked uncomfortable in the Tour de France was during the ubiquitous Lesley Garrett’s toe curling rendition of God Save the Queen at the final ceremony.

From: Roger M Dobson, Ash Street, Cross Hills.

BRADLEY Wiggins has put the Great back into Great Britain. The man deserves a knighthood.