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It’s the perfect Wiggins exit. The peloton’s coolest rider won’t be clipping out of the pedals in some anonymous French race, and he won’t be hanging around one Olympics too long.
Cycling’s artist is returning to his roots for what’s sure to be an emotional and appropriately dramatic farewell. For a rider whose style marked the peloton both on and off the bike, Bradley Wiggins is scripting his own sendoff that matches his flare for the theatrical.
Just days after winning a record eighth Olympic medal, making him Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian across all sports, Wiggins is returning to his roots to say goodbye.
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The Wiggins legend was forged and honed on the boards, and he couldn’t imagine a more fitting setting for his farewell than a velodrome. He completes the circles with a special one.
“I have to go back to my historical base and the Ghent Six Day, which is where I want it to end,” Wiggins said. “My first memory as a child is being there, with my dad when he was racing, and the place hasn’t changed. It’ll be a nice place to end my career.”
Wiggins confirmed he will race the Tour of Britain (September 4-11), the Six Days of London (October 25-30), and then the Six Days of Ghent (November 15-20).
And his partner? None other than Mark Cavendish, who also confirmed he will ride with his Madison partner in his farewell.
“I wanted it to end like this, not some crappy little race in the north of France — Paris-Tours in the rain — climbing off in the feed,” Wiggins said. “It’ll be a nice place to end my career, back where I was born, back where it started.”
For Wiggins, returning to Ghent will close a lifelong circle and will put an emotional punctuation mark on the end of his career. Wiggins is the son of Australian track cyclist Gary Wiggins and he was born in Belgium, with his father chasing the dream of racing in Europe — the continent that his son would reach the absolute pinnacle on both the track and road.
The significance of Wiggins as a transformative figure cannot be underestimated. Graced with genetics and driven by torment, Wiggins would break ground at every turn of the pedal. He defied reason and transformed his body from a track cyclist into a grand tour contender and back again, becoming Great Britain’s first Tour de France winner in 2012.
After winning the crown jewel on the road — the 2014 world time trial title — Wiggins returned to the track. He gained weight, hit the boards, and on Friday he won his third team pursuit gold medal. Legend.
“It wasn’t easy, giving up the big-money contract on the road, but it was all worth it,” Wiggins said. “It was the perfect ending.”