Blazin' Saddles

God save our gracious Bradley

Blazin' Saddles

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With a sea of Union flags and under a blue, cloudless sky — this was how the Queen's Diamond Jubilee was meant to be.

Bradley Wiggins was crowned Britain's first ever winner of the Tour de France on Sunday as scores of British fans cheered along the Champs Elysees. As he stood atop the podium in yellow for the crowning moment of his illustrious career, the 32-year-old was then brought crashing down to earth with the glass-cracking, ear-stabbing sounds of Lesley Garrett butchering the national anthem.

Didn't Wiggo always say that it wasn't over until the fat lady sang?

Perhaps this was France's idea of taking revenge on Britain for so comprehensively dominating their race over the past three weeks.

With seven stage wins in total, Britain waltzed away from Paris (the city pipped by London to host the 2012 Olympics) with 33.3 percent of the spoils — plus the small matter of the fabled maillot jaune (not to mention the second step on the podium).

Mark Cavendish added the crème anglaise to the gateau with his fourth consecutive win in Paris — led out by the yellow jersey in what must be another first in Tour history. Having still never lost on the Champs Elysees, Cav must be odds-on to name his second daughter 'Elisa'.

After completing nearly 3,500 kilometres in the saddle without ever dropping lower than second place in the overall standings, the last thing Wiggins deserved was to share the stage with a warbling soprano wearing a tacky Union flag dress. Do ASO have no idea of Wiggins's distinctive music tastes? Did they mistake 'Mod' for 'Shod'?

It truly was the Lanterne Rouge of national anthem singing — although that would be doing a gross disservice to poor Jimmy Engoulvent, the 153rd of 153 remaining riders in the race, almost four hours behind Wiggins. Heck, it would have been worth Jimmy conceding another 20 minutes just to have missed Garrett in action.

Sounding much like a drunk aunt down the karaoke, Garrett — whose latest album 'A North Country Lass' was released in April — made Wiggo's eyes pop out of his head, his tears of joy turning fast into tears of abject embarrassment.

"We're just going to draw the raffle now," Wiggins said in classic Wiggins style afterwards when handed the mic, making light of the situation before warning the jubilant crowd "don't get too drunk".

If Garrett, who heralds from the Yorkshire town of Thorne, is part of the English county's bid to host the Grand Depart of the 2016 Tour, then we can safely presume that there'll be no Harrogate toffee or Leeds Castle for the peloton in four years' time.

Somewhere in London, organisers of the Olympic Opening Ceremony were either breathing a huge sigh of relief — or frantically trying to alter their singing schedule ahead of next Friday's big kick-off.

Lesley Garrett wasn't the only incongruous presence Wiggins had to withstand on the day he formally entered the record books in Paris — for greeting Team Sky on their bus in the morning at the leafy town of Rambouillet was none other than... Maurice Greene, the former American sprinter.

In quite bizarre scenes, the paunchy one-time 100m world record holder was rubbing shoulders with the group of emaciated, topless riders and shaking the hands of the two stars of the show, Wiggins and Cavendish.

Greene challenged Cav to a race before asking Wiggo, "How does it feel to be the first ever?" To which a bemused Wiggins replied, "er, nice", before resorting to shouting out loud "Maurice Greene, baby!" in his best Afro-American accent.

In the finishing area after the final stage, Greene approached Wiggins and asked, "You won the gold jersey here, now you want to win the gold medal, huh?" At this point, Saddles almost expected a cameo from Martina Navratilova.

But after the 'gold' jersey, the gold medal is indeed the next step of a potentially all-conquering summer for this immensely talented ensemble of British riders. Winning the Tour with Wiggins was but the first part of the equation — and now thoughts turn to winning the Olympic road race with Cavendish.

With Wiggins, Cavendish and Chris Froome all part of Team GB's five-man squad for London 2012, Sky's post-Tour celebrations will be muted in Paris. Only once Cav picks up gold on The Mall — and Wiggo gives it his best shot in the time trial — can Lesley Garrett be called upon to sing a full medley of Paul Weller songs.

Perhaps they can invite Greene and some Mexican discus throwers along too.

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