Glasgow 2014: Bradley Wiggins - At times I wish I hadn't won Tour

By David McDaidBBC Sport
Track cycling is in my genes - Wiggins
Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
Competition dates: 24 July - 3 August. Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Scotland, Red Button, Connected TVs, online, tablets and mobiles

Sir Bradley Wiggins says there have been times when he wishes he had never won the Tour de France and Olympic gold in 2012 that brought him national fame.

The 34-year-old aims to win his first Commonwealth Games gold medal on Thursday, two years after those feats.

"It was nice people saying 'it changed my life' and hearing things like 'the Wiggo effect'; that was a positive.

"From a personal point of view, there's been times I wish I'd never done all that," he told BBC Sport.

"I left for the Tour de France that year relatively unknown in the general public's eyes. When I came back, for a week or so I felt like the most famous man in the country.

"It's quite hard that level of fame, when you just want to do normal stuff with the children, things like that. That was hard but I think you learn to deal with it."

Prince Charles, Carol Vorderman and Bradley Wiggins attend the Pride of Britain awards in October 2012
Wiggins at the 2012 Pride of Britain awards with Prince Charles and TV personality Carol Vorderman

In an exclusive interview, the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, who competes for England in the team pursuit in Glasgow, also revealed that:

  • Sir Chris Hoy helped him come to terms with the attention in the aftermath of his successful 2012.
  • Returning to track racing with Team England has helped ease the disappointment of not being selected for this year's Tour de France.
  • Winning the Paris-Roubaix road race and then Olympic gold in 2016 are his two remaining ambitions in cycling.
  • He would be content with his cycling career if it were to end now.
Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012
Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France in 2012

Just 10 days after becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France, Wiggins won his fourth Olympic gold medal, and a then British record seventh medal in all, in the time trial in London.

"You can plan physically to try to win the Tour but I could never plan for what was going to happen after it," he recalled.

"It just went mad for a bit. Looking back now you don't fully appreciate it at the time, you just try to take it in your stride… and drinking and stuff to try to ease your way through it.

"It was massive really. I can't really put it into words how much it changed everything.

"Talking to people like Chris Hoy really helped, because he went through a similar thing after [the 2008 Olympics in] Beijing. You realise that it's not just you."

Bradley Wiggins sits on a gold throne as he celebrates his time trial victory in the 2012 Olympics
King of all he surveyed: Wiggins celebrated his 2012 Olympic victory seated on a gold throne

Wiggins, who says his son Ben "loves Mark Cavendish and is really inspired by him", only decided to compete on the track at the Commonwealth Games once his omission from Team Sky's Tour de France line-up was confirmed in early July.

"I was always going to do the Commonwealths, but I was only going to do the time trial [originally] after the Tour de France," said Wiggins.

He says Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford suggested reverting to the track as an alternative.

"As soon as he said it, I thought that was the next best thing really," added Wiggins. "I got straight back in the velodrome and training with the guys.

"The last six or seven weeks since I've been back on the track have just been really refreshing and a good distraction from all of that Tour de France nonsense.

"It's given me another focus rather than just lolling about at home feeling miserable."

Wiggins will be competing at his third Commonwealth Games, having won silver in the team pursuit at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur, aged just 18, then claimed silver in both the team pursuit and individual pursuit at Manchester in 2002.

Sir Bradley Wiggins' track cycling record
Seven Olympic medalsGold (4), silver (1), bronze (2)
Ten World Championship medalsGold (6), silver (3), bronze (1)
Three Commonwealth medalsSilver (3)

"It's one of the few things missing from my collection," he said. "Being in Scotland, it's almost a home Games and there's always a nice feeling with that.

"So it'd be nice to come away with a gold and put that with the rest of them, 16 years on from the first one."

But it is at the Olympics and on the road that he has enjoyed most of his success.

He won team pursuit gold at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, after which he began to concentrate on road racing, albeit with a brief return to the velodrome for the 2010 World Track Championships in Manchester.

His main career goal now is to win a fifth Olympic gold medal - which would equal Sir Steve Redgrave's British record - in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the prestigious Paris-Roubaix one-day classic, in which he finished ninth in April.

"I'd love to win Paris-Roubaix," he said. "Then it'll be a nice way to end my career in Rio on the track, the way it all began for me.

Glasgow 2014: Sir Bradley Wiggins reveals Commonwealth plan

"The track was always something I was going to come back to. It was my first love.

"I feel like I was born to ride the track. My dad was a professional track racer. It's in my genes and my first memories as a baby were in a velodrome.

"If I am to compete with this team in Rio - which is what I want - I'm going to have to give it the time necessary. The guys have got so fast and the event's moved on.

"I didn't want to take it for granted that I could just come back in with a couple of weeks of preparation and be able to do it. This gives me a chance to see where I'm at and see what I have to work on."

With the end of his career in sight, Wiggins says further success is merely "a bonus" having surpassed his own expectations at an early age.

"I'm pretty content with what I've achieved," he said. "I never imagined years ago I'd achieve all of this. Cycling's given me everything and if I had to stop tomorrow I'd be content.

"I remember when I got my first [Olympic] medal in Sydney in 2000. We got bronze, I was 19, and I walked away from there thinking 'if I never do anything else, I've always got an Olympic medal'. Everything else is a bonus really."