Bradley Wiggins: We may be strongest team ever in an Olympic road race
guardian.co.uk, Friday 27 July 2012 16.05 BST
Enjoying a spin in the Box Hill area are the Team GB road race team of Mark Cavendish, left, Chris Froome and Ian Stannard, ahead of David Millar and Bradley Wiggins in preparation for the men's road race in the 2012 Olympic Games. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Four weeks ago I was in Liege getting ready for the Tour de France, now I'm in a golf course hotel in leafy Surrey waiting for the start of the Olympic Games. It's been a crazy few weeks, and the last seven days was the maddest of all. A week ago I rode the time trial of my life in the Tour, with James Murdoch in the car behind, the power flowing perfectly and the last five kilometres spent knowing I was going to win, thinking of everything that had gone before: training on the Trough of Bowland in the rain, emptying the tank for Shane Sutton in Tenerife, the sacrifices my wife Cath had made so that I could train as I needed.
The last day in Paris was everything I had wanted: it had been a dream of mine to lead Cav out for the stage win while wearing the yellow jersey, and when I saw him going round the corner on the Place de la Concorde behind Eddy Boasson-Hagen, I knew the job was done. After it all died down, the team went for a reception at the Ritz, again with James Murdoch, and Jeremy Darroch, the head of Sky; there was champagne, quick speeches, with the riders all clearing the finger buffet because we were starving.
I flew back to the north-west with Cath and the kids. I'd insisted on going home, it was what I had wanted throughout the Tour, but it wasn't quite what I expected. We woke up to find a mass of press and other people at the end of the road, cars parked for half a mile down the lane, and it felt like we were under siege. I think I'd underestimated quite how big the whole thing was. By the evening I was like: 'I've got to go out on my bike for an hour', so I went out, but I couldn't get through the mass of people, and I had to give them a few minutes.
There was a line of cars following me as I rode, people taking photographs, people wanting me to sign things — some of them piles of pictures that they were going to sell on eBay, I suspect — and the next day when I went out for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread I was mobbed. The same thing happened when I took Ben to a rugby league training day; all the rugby people coming over, which you don't expect because cycling isn't their thing. We met Sam Tomkins and whereas he's been my lad's hero, there he was praising me.
So I'm having to come to terms with what people think of me, which is humbling to say the least. As cyclists we become famous in our own little world, we don't become celebrities. It's a sport that levels people out.
When you go on a club-run, if you puncture, you repair it yourself. You don't get someone else to do it for you. I still wash my own bike when I'm at home and it's covered in sh*t — I did that on Monday. I used to get laughed at and called names when I was a kid and wearing Lycra. So it all takes a bit of getting used to.
That meant it was a relief to get to Surrey. We're well protected here, with the media only allowed in on one day. We are outside London, but it definitely feels like being at the Olympic Games, because Doug Dailey, the GB logistics manager, is here. He's been there throughout my career at every Games since I was 19 at Sydney. I only seem to see him every four years, each time I've improved a bit and he says: "You've done a bit better since I last saw you." It's a more protective environment since the Tour, where you have people photographing you as you eat your dinner, as if you were monkeys in a cage.
We had a taste of what awaits when we went out training, with people who were just going about their daily business saying: 'Bloody hell, there go Great Britain.' The support was massive just in the villages around Surrey, and on Box Hill there were people everywhere looking for a glimpse. You can feel the buzz already.
This is what Cav has been living for for most of the year. The road race title is what he's been thinking about since he won the world's last September. He looks as fit as I've ever seen him. I told him I think black makes him look fat, but he looks different now he's wearing Great Britain blue. He's been rallying the troops, telling us what a fantastic team we are, and how he has no doubt we will be around him in the finale. It's probably the strongest team ever in an Olympic road race. We're all humble about what we have achieved but externally we must look like the dominant force.
There's no problem recovering from the Tour; it's the best way to prepare. This is a 250km race and we've had five days to recover since the Tour, sitting on our backsides in a nice hotel. It's no secret what we want to do. You can predict that we have the horsepower to bring it together on the Mall, and we've got the fastest rider in the world. If you can get Cav to two kilometres to go in a bike race, he's going to win. Someone needs to take on the mantle of leadership and Cav's done that. So I'll do whatever job is asked of me. If it's about getting him to 300m to go, I will do it.
You'd put far more money on him than on me. He's been there for me for the last month and now it's his turn.http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2012/jul/27/bradley-wiggins-mark-cavendish-london-2012?CMP=twt_gu
Looking forward to the road race tomorrow. Mark Cavendish is odds on favourite to win gold.