Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Pedalling a Very Fine Line between Glory in Tour and Anorexia; THE BIG INTERVIEW BRADLEY WIGGINS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Pedalling a Very Fine Line between Glory in Tour and Anorexia; THE BIG INTERVIEW BRADLEY WIGGINS

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Majendie

BRADLEY WIGGINS looks painfully thin, as if one big gust of Alpine wind on a Tour de France stage could knock him over.

When the 29-year-old takes off his top, he reveals a protruding ribcage, his cheeks are noticeably concave and his veins stick out from his arms -- in short there is not a single centimetre of fat on his body.

The leading Briton in this year's Tour admits he has a weight problem, even going so far as to suggest that his bid for race glory has driven him to the verge of anorexia.

Wiggins, who lies a remarkable third behind Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong in cycling's most prestigious event, has shed 6kg since he last rode the Tour in 2007.

The 6ft 3in Londoner tips the scales at a relatively meagre 11st. And he admitted his bid to lose weight to make life easier on the Tour's tough climbs had led him and his wife, Cath, in particular, to seriously worry about his eating habits.

"I think my wife has struggled a bit because of how obsessive I get with what I eat and stuff," he said. "I'm borderline on being unhealthy at the moment. It's difficult and it's an incredibly fine balance between getting your weight right down and being anorexic."

His body fat is just four per cent and, should that get any lower, his Garmin Team doctors have warned his body will start eating into his muscle.

And Wiggins added: "It's quite scary and I've been told I must put on weight after the race. I know my wife will want to fatten me up when I get home."

His pre-Tour diet included going gluten free for two months earlier in the year, a refusal to have breakfast before his morning training rides and scrapping beer completely.

However, during the race he has had to massively increase his food intake just to survive. On a regular day, he consumes about 5,000 to 8,000 calories. Breakfast entails cereal, fruit and a plate of pasta and eggs. This is followed by snacks en route to the start, two meals on the road, a quick bite to eat at the finish and a full dinner in the evening back at the team hotel.

On average, Wiggins will eat five eggs a day, 200 grams of meat or fish, 10g of nuts, three yoghurts, all manner of energy bars, four fruit jellies, 200g of oats, a similar serving of pasta, seven rice cakes, a tablespoon of honey, a quarter of a baguette and four pieces of fruit.

Despite the apparent dangers of his pre-Tour weight-loss programme, there is no denying it has helped his cause during this year's race. While the headline act has been the battle between Armstrong and Contador, which is heavily tipped in the Spaniard's favour after his victory on the climb to Verbier on Sunday, Wiggins has provided a surprise sideshow.

The Briton (pictured during Sunday's stage, right) was unable to go with Con-tador up to Verbier but still managed to finish ahead of seven-times Tour winner Armstrong, just over a minute behind. …

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