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Review: An Evening With Bradley Wiggins

13 Nov 2018

A sporting legend with a chip on his shoulder, a friendly interviewer and a bottle of wine – what could possibly go wrong?

Cyclist Rating: 
• Often amusing • Shockingly honest
• Very sweary, which may offend some

The first night of Sir Bradley Wiggins’s tour, in which he is interviewed on stage by ITV cycling presenter Matt Barbet, veered from foul-mouthed confessional to tearful reminiscence in front of a packed audience at the Lowry Theatre in Salford last night.

Wiggins, Britain’s first winner of the Tour de France, record-breaking Olympian and Hour Record holder, often came across as a deeply troubled soul nursing a massive chip on his shoulder as he talked about his career and the toll it has taken on his personal life.

He regularly referred to his impressive catalogue of victories, medals and records as 'meaningless' compared to how his family has been affected by media interest in a career that has been significantly tarnished in recent years by the 'Jiffygate' scandal and revelations he had been given permission to use triamcinolone, a banned corticosteroid, for medical reasons with the appropriate TUEs, before races in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

In a rambling, two-hour show punctuated by regular sips from a bottle of wine at his side, Wiggins took aim at fellow riders, journalists, celebrities and even his former Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford.

Speaking of his former Team Sky teammate Mark Cavendish, he said: 'We always have some beef between us because I tell him how it is, I don’t lick his arse like other people.

'We didn’t speak to each other for 18 months after Ghent [in 2016 when Wiggins retired from professional racing].

'He wears a £300,000 watch and rides for a team [Dimension Data] that donates 10 bicycles a day to Africa. I said to him, "Why don’t you just sell your watch, then you could buy Africa".

'He’s got very little hands, like Jeremy Beadle [TV presenter who had Poland's syndrome, which manifested itself as a disproportionately small right hand]. Can you imagine changing partners in the madison with Jeremy Beadle?'

On Chris Froome: 'We don’t like each other, so what? He hates me, but he’s a great athlete who will go down as one of the greats of our sport.'

On Dave Brailsford: 'He’s like the Messiah reborn, with a halo around his head. I can’t describe him without swearing. Cav summed him up when he said, "If you walked in on him and your wife in bed, he’d make you think it was your idea."'

Referring to his short-lived rowing career, he shrugged his shoulders and said: 'You won’t see a rower with a sleeve tattoo. You’ve got to have been to the right schools. I don’t have a silver spoon up my arse.'

Then he turned his sights on various celebrities he has met. Of TV presenter Dermot O’Leary, who beat sartorially-proud Wiggins to Esquire’s Best Dressed Man Award, he said: 'He gets his suits for free, I had to pay for mine. He’s a fraud.'

Of former Man Utd and England footballer-turned-TV pundit Gary Neville, he said: 'No-one grows up wanting to be Gary Neville.'

But he reserved his greatest scorn for the media 'muppets' – naming Paul Kimmage and Daily Mail sports writer Matt Lawton – who criticised him over his inclusion of Lance Armstrong in his recently-published book, Icons: My Inspiration, My Motivation, My Obsession.

'Seeing Lance Armstrong win the World Championships in 1993 when I was 13 changed my life,' he said. 'I didn’t sit there thinking, [adopts comedy accent] "Ooh, I bet he’ll go on to bully [his former US Postal teammate’s wife] Betty Andreau later."

'I didn’t know any of that at the time. All I knew was that I was a 13-year-old kid in Kilburn regularly getting battered for wearing lycra, and he was an inspiration.'

Turning to the audience, he said: 'I bet some journalists are in here scribbling away tonight?'

Cyclist could only afford the cheap seats in the circle so he never saw us waving our hand in the air, which is probably just as well as he continued: 'If you are, you can fuck off!'

Don’t worry Brad, we are not going to reprint some of the less than father-like comments you made about your 13-year-old son, Ben.

At one point, Wiggins emptied the contents of a bag on the floor – his medals from five Olympic Games – and joked: 'I said to the wife this morning, "Where are all them Olympic medals that were in the drawer?" I’ve got Steve Redgrave’s in there too.'

He added: 'They’re all meaningless, worthless, if your kids aren’t doing well. Cycling’s my passion, but it’s not fundamentally important next to my wife and family.

'I’m not going to change. You’re trying to please people all the time when you’re in the public spotlight, but I’ve been through too much at home to ever change.

'You have to be a different person because you’re in the public eye. I’m fighting against that on a daily basis.'

This is about as close as he gets to addressing 'Jiffygate' and the parliamentary committee report which concluded that Team Sky had 'crossed an ethical line' by abusing the anti-doping system.

When Wiggins returns to the stage to answer questions from the audience in the second half of the show, he reveals: 'My PR person told me to go easy on the wine or imagine what the Daily Mail are going to say.'

He reveals a little more about life in the Wiggins household: 'Cath wears the trousers in our house. We’ve been married 16 years and known each other for 20, of course she does. I swear at home too in front of the kids. I even use the c-word.

'Track cycling is ingrained in our family. The track was my first love, I only turned to the road to make some money. Cath is a British champion and now my son, Ben, races on the track. Unfortunately for him, his name is Wiggins.'

He said that both Ben and his younger sister Bella planned professional road racing careers.

'Ben has already decided when he’ll be racing his first Tour, but Bella can’t because there isn’t one for girls. That has to change.'

Wiggins became tearful when remembering his granddad: 'He taught me right from wrong, he was like a dad to me, so when I saw other lads stealing stereos from cars I was never going to do it.'

The tears turned to laughter as he recalled his grandmother at the post-Tour victory party in Paris in 2012.

'My nan’s a bit of a scallywag and was nicking the cutlery from the table because it had ‘Ritz, Paris’, printed on it. She was in the toilet cleaning it.'

He also paid tribute to his mum who 'washed his bike for me out on the balcony of our flat. But you don’t get a medal for being a parent.'

He said his mum would be at tonight’s show in London. I’m sure Bradley's mum has seen and heard a lot in her time as the mother of one of Britain’s most outspoken Olympians, but let’s hope she’s prepared for some of her son’s more colourful confessions.

An Evening With Bradley Wiggins continues its UK tour until Monday 19th November, visiting London, Guildford, York, Cardiff and Nottingham.

£37.38 - £123.00