Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After the Blood, Sweat and Tears Wiggins Does Not Deserve the Smears

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

After the Blood, Sweat and Tears Wiggins Does Not Deserve the Smears

Article excerpt

Byline: James Lawton Award-winning columnist

[bar] RADLEY WIGGINS can reflect that he could hardly have achieved more as he rides down the Champs Elysees on Sunday. The fountains will sparkle, the band will play and for the first time an Englishman will lay his hands on the greatest sports prize of the Republic. If there was a parallel, which there isn't, it might be a Frenchman scoring a century at Lord's.

Wiggins, who already owns three Olympic gold medals, has clearly put himself in place to be the Englishman of a golden summer of sport. Victory in the Olympic road race would surely provoke one question: is there anything this extraordinary competitor cannot achieve? Unfortunately there is and L'Humanite, France's voice of the left wing, will spell it out in the same way they were doing all those years ago when home-grown heroes Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Thevenet, Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon were sweeping into Paris with the yellow jersey on their backs.

L'Humanite used to be the official outlet for the French Communist party and now it has a more independent stance. But on the issue of the Tour its opinion is utterly seamless.

The Tour, says the newspaper which used to land on the tables of Paris cafes almost before the first splash of champagne on the Champs Elysees, is not a sports event but a charade. It is the invention of the corporate classes and one that is cynically inflicted on working people. The heroes are the boys from the farms and the vineyards who dream of glory -- and are required to seek chemical help in pursuit of their ambitions.

Anquetil, the great champion, hardly deflected this argument when he declared that the surprising thing was not that "the boys" used drugs but that anyone expected them to conquer such inhuman challenges in the mountains without their help.

This is the argument that has twice sparked Wiggins into rage in the last few weeks of his most sustained and brilliant piece of riding in a distinguished career.

One occasion his language was pur-ple. Always he is filled with indignation. But maybe Wiggins is now obliged to accept the world as it is and not how he would like it to be. …

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