Daniel Gregory’s Column: Wiggins victory sets up London games superbly

Bradley Wiggins, winner of the 2012 Tour de France cycling race celebrates on the podium of the the Tour de France cycling race in Paris, France, Sunday July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Bradley Wiggins, winner of the 2012 Tour de France cycling race celebrates on the podium of the the Tour de France cycling race in Paris, France, Sunday July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

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I’m not going to try and masquerade as a huge cycling enthusiast, but even those who aren’t fans of the sport must have sat up and taken notice of the massive achievements of Bradley Wiggins over the past week or so.

Becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France, Wiggins has captured the attention and adulation of the nation at exactly the right time, just days away from the 2012 Olympic Games getting under way.

I’ve been casting my beady eye over extracts from Wiggins’ autobiography, In Pursuit of Glory, in the papers on my lunch breaks, and they reveal just how much Wiggins had to go through to get to where he is today.

Wiggins, born in Ghent, Belgium, to mum Nicola and dad Garry, who was also a professional cyclist, was put through hell as a child and had a strained relationship with his father, who was a drugs dealer and a drunk.

One extract reads: “At times the situation was almost comical.

“At one stage he flew us to Australia to meet his family. On the way back he smuggled more drugs into Belgium - hidden in my nappy.”

Garry died following a suspected brawl in New South Wales in January 2008, but Wiggins was more relieved than sad, writing: “I came to a shocking conclusion, that deep down I was almost glad he had gone.”

A sad state of affairs that further enhances Wiggins’ achievements in winning six Olympic medals, three of which are gold, and becoming not only the first Briton to win the highly coveted Tour title, but the first to win the Tour and an Olympic track cycling gold.

This perfectly tees us up for the much anticipated 2012 London Games.

I only hope Wiggins can somehow summon the energy to follow up his efforts in France by winning yet more gold medals, this time around on home soil.

All the furore with the Tour just gives the Yorkshire bid to host the first stage, the Grand Depart, in 2016, even more important.

The stage would cover Leeds, York, Hull, Sheffield, Scarborough and the Dales and Yorkshire is competing against Barcelona, Venice, Berlin and Scotland to secure the event.

How great would it be for the area to host the Tour? Sign the petition at www.yorkshire.com/back-the-bid