Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Not Even Winning the World Cup Would Beat This Feat

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Not Even Winning the World Cup Would Beat This Feat

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

TWO brilliant young Englishmen enthralled their nation by tearing their way through France this weekend. In the final part of the BBC's The Hollow Crown on Saturday night, Tom Hiddleston played Henry V, stiffening the sinews and summoning up the blood before the walls of Harfleur.

Then, yesterday, it was Bradley Wiggins's turn. The 32-year-old mod from Kilburn achieved an Agincourt all of his own -- a conquest unlike any before it in the history of Anglo-French sporting relations. On a warm and wonderful Sunday afternoon he bicycled in splendour down a sun-buttered Champs Elysees to become the first ever Englishman to be hailed king of the Tour de France.

Events of the past three weeks made Wiggins's entry into Paris yesterday a coronation procession rather than a battle. Victory had looked likely from the middle of last week, a near-certainty on Friday and a formality by the weekend.

Nevertheless, when Wiggins stood on the podium before the Arc de Triomphe, flanked by rows of curious Parisians and jubilant English, it was still a great and surreal moment.

Lesley Garrett warbled God Save The Queen. Union flags were waved. The afternoon's molten light twinkled on Wiggins's ginger sideburns; when he was invested with the regalia of triumph -- a yellow jersey and stuffed toy lion -- history had undoubtedly been made.

In the 109 years and 99 Tours that have taken place since 1903, winners have come from a rainbow spread of nations. Most have been French or Belgian but the USA, Spain, Holland, Luxemburg, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Australia and Italy have had their turn. Brits have generally been footsoldiers in the peloton.

Now, though, with the Olympic road race less than a week away, it appears there is no other nation in such fearsome spirit. …

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