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Five-time Olympic champion Wiggins calls time on career

By Jack De Menezes

Sir Bradley Wiggins has announced his retirement from cycling with immediate effect, ending a 14-year professional career as Britain's most successful ever Olympian.

Thirty-six-year-old Wiggins was part of Britain's four-man team pursuit side that won gold at the Rio Olympic Games this summer, and despite teasing that he could continue into 2017, he released an announcement via his Facebook page to confirm he was retiring from the sport.

Victory in the team pursuit saw Wiggins clinch his fifth Olympic gold medal of an illustrious career, and when added to by his one silver and two bronze medals, makes him the most successful British OIympian in history. Only Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny have more gold medals with six, but with an additional silver each they fall short of Wiggins' record eight medals.

The Kilburn-born cyclist also has seven Track World Championships gold medals to his name, and Wiggins also enjoyed a successful transition to road racing after the turn of the decade, with his crowning glory coming when he became the first Briton to win the Tour de France in 2012, along with stage race victories in the Critérium du Dauphiné, Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, Tour of Britain and the Tour of California across a three-year period from 2011 until 2014.

During that time, Wiggins also won gold at the World Time Trial Championships, and a year later broke the Hour Record.

A statement released on his Facebook page yesterday read: "I have been lucky enough to live a dream and fulfil my childhood aspiration of making a living and a career out of the sport I fell in love with at the age of 12. I've met my idols and ridden with and alongside the best for 20 years."

He added: "What will stick with me forever is the support and love from the public through thick and thin, all as a result of riding a pushbike for a living. 2012 blew my mind and was a gas. Cycling has given me everything and I couldn't have done it without the support of my wonderful wife Cath and our amazing kids.

"2016 is the end of the road for this chapter, onwards and upwards, "feet on the ground, head in the clouds" kids from Kilburn don't win Olympic Golds and Tour de Frances'! They do now."

Wiggins bowed out in style in November as he won the final track race of his career in the form of the Ghent Six Day alongside long-time teammate Mark Cavendish, and the support he received during the closing months led him to reconsider his retirement, which was expected to come after that race in Belgium.

But the decision finally came that he will not compete in 2017, and his time in the saddle ends under something of a cloud after both Sir Dave Brailsford and Shane Sutton, Team Sky general manager and former British Cycling technical director respectively, were questioned by MPs at a Culture, Media and Sport committee meeting this month about a "mystery package" that was delivered to Wiggins during the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné.

The contents were revealed to be Fluimucil, a decongestant which helps to get rid of sticky and thick mucus that is obstructing the airway, according to Brailsford.

But questions still remain over why Team Sky needed British Cycling assistant Simon Cope to fly out to Geneva from Manchester with a product that is openly available in France for around €8, as well as Wiggins' use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions [TUEs] during his career.

Belfast Telegraph


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