Europe hails 'Wiggo le Froggy'

The sporting press in Britain and around Europe have united in praise of Bradley Wiggins ahead of his Tour de France triumph in Paris.


Wiggins will become the first Briton to win Le Tour, and his achievements receive rich recognition in the Sunday papers.

The Mail on Sunday's columnist Patrick Collins places Wiggins in elevated company in the pantheon of British sporting heroes.

"Any list is necessarily subjective, but I would suggest that victory in the Tour places him alongside Roger Bannister's four minute mile, the World Cup win of 1966 and Fred Perry's three successive Wimbledon tennis titles. "

While some cycling fans have declared this year's race one of the easiest of recent editions due to the relative lack of mountain-top finishes, the Sunday Times's Lionel Birnie dares to ask whether Wiggins is the greatest cyclist of all time, pointing out his versatility in switching from track to road cycling.

However, Birnie concludes that to be considered alongside the likes of Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain, "Wiggins would need to add at least another Tour de France title."

The Observer's William Fotheringham reminds us that it is a team game, paying tribute to Wiggins's inner circle: "Physiologist Tim Kerrison, the British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman – formerly of Bolton Wanderers – and his personal coach (Shane) Sutton, who uses his racing experience to blend with Kerrison's science."

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Even the red-tops have got in on the act, with that rarest of things - a cycling lead on the back page of The Sun.

'Wiggy Stardust' yelps The Sun, which reports on "growing calls for the Team Sky star to be knighted.

"His wife Cath summed up the mood of the entire nation. She tweeted: 'Right everyone, I am calling it. Operation drink as much champagne as you can. GO.'"

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Even with the Olympics to come, Wiggins is already a 5/6 favourite to win Sports Personality of the Year.

French sports daily L'Equipe offers a warm tribute to Wiggins, devoting seven pages of coverage to the Tour under the headline 'A l'heure Anglaise' - a double meaning that signifies both 'English time' and an 'English lesson'.

L'Equipe has literally treated the Briton as one of their own, rechristening him "Wiggo le Froggy" and lavishing special praise when he waited for rivals after thumb tacks left on the course caused a rash of punctures.

The Daily Telegraph's Ian Chadband speculates on the reason why he is so appreciated: "Perhaps they recognise someone who, for all his emotional raging at them, is an honest, worthy champion who stands for the best in their sport."

Meanwhile, our sister site pays tribute to Wiggins's ’English passion', recounting the unlikely story of a Belgian-born, London-raised boy who became a cycling legend.

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Elsewhere on the continent, Spain's El Mundo goes with: 'Wiggins breaks the British curse'. It points out that not only have Britons never won the Tour, they have often suffered unhappiness and misfortune - riders like Tom Simpson who died on the slopes of Mont Ventoux after taking amphetamines and alcohol, or Graeme Obree who attempted suicide.

Wiggins also makes the front page of Italy's Gazzetta Sportiva, under the headline: 'Wiggins sings 'God save the Tour"'

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