Bradley Wiggins, Men's Health Cover Star, Reflects on a Turbulent 10-Year Ride

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Photo credit: Photography by Chris Floyd
Photo credit: Photography by Chris Floyd

Sir Bradley Wiggins has ridden a bumpy, occasionally treacherous path towards becoming the 41-year-old man he is today. In the May issue of Men's Health, our cover star speaks exclusive to Alastair Campbell for our Talking Heads series of interviews about the importance of mental health and his love/hate relationship with cycling.

On the roles of both physical and mental fitness in his success as a cyclist:

“They went hand in hand. I had an acute ability to understand my body inside out. I don’t think I had extreme physical talent, it was an understanding of how to make the bike faster. In time trials, I could ride to one watt of where I was meant to be. Others surge and go 50 watts over. I could manage it – like a car’s cruise control. That’s physical and mental together.”

On how he manages his mental health today:

“I have to have routine. Training every day, it’s important. Not drinking too much… With my depression, if I’m not looking after myself it manifests more like a mania. I always thought of depression as taking you to a dark room in a stoop. I try to be funnier and end up being shocking and contentious.”

Photo credit: Photography by Chris Floyd
Photo credit: Photography by Chris Floyd

On the point at which he stopped enjoying his life as a professional cyclist:

“In 2012, after winning the Tour de France, then winning at the Olympics. Life was never the same again. I was thrust into this fame and adulation that came with the success… I’m an introverted, private person. I didn’t know who ‘me’ was, so I adopted a kind of veil – a sort of rock star veil. It wasn’t really me… It was probably the unhappiest period of my life. Everything I did was about winning for other people, and the pressures that came with being the first British winner of the Tour.”

On his bond with former British Cycling coach and Team Sky manager Sir Dave Brailsford:

“Oh yeah, we go back 20 years. He’s like a big brother, just maybe one I don’t talk to all the time. But you couldn’t go through all the success we had – British Cycling, Team Sky – without a bond.”

On whether ruthlessness made Dave Brailsford successful as a coach and a manager:

“Absolutely. He probably expected me to be more like him. My problem was there was a human being inside me. Dave is a big c**t, a proper c**t, and I say that as a term of endearment because to be successful you have to be. I was at times, Chris Froome was. You have to be ruthless and c**tish. It’s not nice, and you know you’re doing it, but you know if you take your foot off the gas, you’re going to pay a price.”

Photo credit: Photography by Chris Floyd
Photo credit: Photography by Chris Floyd

On the impact of being groomed by a coach when he was a teenager:

“I was groomed by a coach when I was younger – I was about 13 – and I never fully accepted that... It all impacted me as an adult… I buried it. My stepfather was quite violent to me, he used to call me a faggot for wearing Lycra and stuff, so I didn’t think I could tell him. I was such a loner… I just wanted to get out of the environment. I became so insular. I was quite a strange teenager in many ways and I think the drive on the bike stemmed from adversity.”

On his current goals and path to accepting the role cycling has played in his life:

“To be happy… The pathway for me is taking control of what I want to do. For the first time in five years, whether or not I have a love/hate relationship with cycling, I accept the love. I’m not going to pull back from it, not do other stuff.”

Find the full interview in the May issue of Men's Health UK, on sale now.


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