Blazin' Saddles

Team GB on track with Lord Wiggo

Blazin' Saddles

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Bradley Wiggins

Like everyone in the UK, Saddles is currently gripped in Olympic euphoria — so much so that he had to escape to the far reaches of Cornwall in the south-west of England last weekend for fear of suffocation by London 2012 smug satisfaction.

But down in wet and dreary Cornwall, in a quaint pub in the picture postcard coastal village of Port Isaac, Saddles overheard even the cider-guzzling locals marvel about "that cyclist called Wiggo — you know, the one with the sideburns".

Making it big in Cornwall is a fair indication of just how well things are going for Bradley Wiggins, who added an Olympic time trial gold to his Tour de France yellow jersey and in doing so became Great Britain's most decorated Olympian in history with seven medals.

Following his emphatic victory over silver German Tony Martin and bronze compatriot Chris Froome, Wiggins even made sitting crossed-legged on one of Posh and Becks's old wedding thrones outside Hampton Court Palace (while doing a double Churchillian V-for-victory sign) actually look cool.

Later that evening Wiggins put in an appearance on the balcony of the BBC studio in the Olympic Park while Saddles was lapping up atmosphere with friends. Strolling towards the top end of the park following a jaunt up the Orbit sculpture, Saddles and his companions noticed a gathering in front of the shipping crates that double up as the BBC base for London 2012 — and the thin-armed, nasally-spectacular silhouette of the man being interviewed was easily identifiable as belonging to Wiggo (a man with more obvious sideburns than a regularly crashing track cyclist).

The crowd (most of them probably unfamiliar with the name Bradley Wiggins even one week ago) roared as the four-time gold medallist waved in appreciation before heading into town for a mutton-chop booze bonanza in a bar overlooking St Paul's Cathedral. After the final crowning moment in a season which may never be bettered in professional cycling, Wiggo could finally let his Mod hair down a bit and hit the vodka & slimline tonics.

Rumour has it Wiggins excelled in all the timed drinking games but peaked a little bit too early in the evening when faced with the really strong stuff and had to be led by Froome to the bar on numerous occasions.

Mark Cavendish also kept on bringing Wiggins glasses of water while the Australian waiters in the bar (Richie and Mick) were on call to take orders.

An unnamed reveller in the bar is said to have overheard a drunken Wiggins say: "Froomey you legend, what would I do without you? I promish — hic — to be there for you if you're ever as blind drunk as this in the future. Now, go tell the DJ to put on some Paul Weller or Ian Brown. Anything decent — just not that c*** Lesley Garrett."

(Oh to be a fly on the mobile phone handset when Froome phones up Wiggins later this week and says, "Hello Bradley, what are you up to on 18th August? Fancy helping me out on a work project in Spain?")

Jokes aside, the achievement of Wiggins (and Froome) this season — and in Wiggo's case, throughout his career stretching all the way back to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 — is quite stunning. If a knighthood wasn't in the bag when securing the maillot jaune in Paris last month, then it was once Wiggins bettered Sir Steve Redgrave's tally of seven career Olympic medals last week.

In fact, a mere 'Sir' seems a little understated for Wiggins, who surely deserves a Lordship as well as being crowned the King of Kilburn. Although, the typically self-deprecating Wiggins was quick to stress that gold medals were a better indicator of brilliance — and in doing so set the scene wonderfully for Sir Chris Hoy's team sprint triumph in the Velodrome two days later as the Flying Scotsman picked up his own fifth gold medal to equal that man Redgrave in the pantheon of Team GB Olympic greatness.

On Tuesday Hoy — the Velodrome's answer to Michael Phelps — could well pick up a record-breaking sixth gold medal by taking the keirin event — a discipline in which he has 55 career wins from 60 races. Victoria Pendleton could well also win a second gold — in the women's individual sprint — while Laura Trott is a medal contender in the gruelling omnium event.

Team GB's domination in the Velodrome has been quite outstanding: they have four golds already and have medalled in every event except the women's team sprint (in which Pendleton and Jessica Varnish had nevertheless set the best time before being disqualified in their semi for an illegal changeover).

Billed as the "Ashes on Wheels" it has been more a case of "Carry on Great Britain" with Australia's cyclists only managing just two miserly track medals to date — a silver in the men's team pursuit and a bronze in the women's team sprint. (Australia's total gold medal tally is dwarfed by that of Scotland's and even Yorkshire, the county trying to snare Grand Depart of the 2016 Tour.)

On the road, Team GB also managed to pick up a medal of every variety across both events for men and women — even after managing to totally balls up the one event everyone expected them to win, the men's road race.

How Cavendish must be feeling now is anyone's guess. The fastest man on two wheels has still yet to win an Olympic medal, with Cav's season once again being overshadowed by that of Wiggins. With the next road race likely to favour climbers, there is talk of Cavendish making a return to the track for Rio 2016 in a bid to end his losing Olympic streak.

In fact, Cav could line up in a men's pursuit team that also boasts former track star Wiggins after the 32-year-old ruled out putting his body through so much pain and defending his time trial gold in Rio. That would be some old boy's get-together: cycling's version of The Expendables.

Of course, with Britain so unforgiving on home soil there has been talk of foul play. Following the fine tradition set by Jurgen Klinsmann of Germans taking a tumble while performing for a British team, Philip Hindes was caught in a storm when he admitted to have crashed intentionally in the men's sprint event to ensure a restart after a bad start.

Although what he did was legal and hardly as dastardly as repeatedly serving into a badminton net in a bid to avoid an unwanted appointment with a formidable Chinese duo, youngster Hindes later claimed his words had been lost in translation (whereby demonstrating that if your team is going to brag about bending the rules then at least make the voice-piece be a naïve tyro for whom English is not a first language).

Tongues continued to wag when French sports paper L'Equipe published a bitter article entitled "Mavic wheels or magic wheels?" in which one of the French squad selectors questioned the miraculous improvement of the British squad since the world championships in April.

"They cover up their wheels a lot," said Isabelle Gautheron according to L'Equipe. "The ones on the bikes they use in competition are placed under covers as soon as they finish. Unlike frames, wheels don't have to be ratified by the UCI. Are they really Mavic wheels?"

Framed by wheels, eh... Whatever next — besides more golds for Great Britain?

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