Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Wiggins set to win Tour de France

Bradley Wiggins the overall leader's yellow jersey on the podium of the 19th stage of the the Tour de France (AP/Laurent Rebours)
Bradley Wiggins the overall leader's yellow jersey on the podium of the 19th stage of the the Tour de France (AP/Laurent Rebours)

Bradley Wiggins is hours away from sealing a historic Tour de France victory that would place him firmly in the pantheon of British sporting greats.

Barring a freak accident, the triple Olympic gold medallist is poised to become the first British winner of the coveted yellow jersey in the 99th edition of the gruelling race.

The 32-year-old is almost certain to enjoy a victory procession on Paris's Champs-Elysees after stretching his lead on Saturday with an imperious performance in winning the 53.5km (33-mile) time-trial stage from Bonneval to Chartres.

As part of his stunning transition from track to road racing, Wiggins finished fourth in the Tour in 2009 - equalling Robert Millar's 1984 British best - but crashed out with a broken collarbone when among the favourites in 2011.

Wiggins is set to realise Team Sky leader Dave Brailsford's goal of using a scientific approach to deliver a British Tour victory within five years.

But in a life full of ups and downs, a balanced perspective has paved the way for the cyclist's greatest sporting achievement.

"I've got a lot of other things in my life that mean more to me than this, and I'd give it up tomorrow for that," Wiggins said.

"But in a sporting sense it's my greatest sporting achievement. I've just won the Tour. What else is there bigger than that? It's probably the bonheur (happiest moment) of my sporting career, perhaps not in life."

The final stage will be the 13th consecutive day that Wiggins has worn the race leader's yellow jersey on a Tour he has previously described as a goldfish bowl.

He added: "The thing I kept reminding myself the last three weeks, which has given me perspective and kept me in reality, is the fact that it is only sport. It's not life and death. It would be very easy in the Tour to lose that sense of reality."

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