Wiggins: Cycling's new 'boss'?
Tejay Van Garderen and Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2012, stage 12
Bradley Wiggins is on his way to winning the Tour de France, but also becoming cycling's boss - like it or not.
"I'm not going to stand on the front and do that," he said today, "I'm a bit too much of a recluse for that."
Cycling has had its share of bosses or patrons over the years, including Bernard Hinault, Francesco Moser and Lance Armstrong. Since Armstrong retired the first time, no one really kept control of the pack and acted as its voice.
David Millar, Filippo Pozzato and others have tried, but without success. Even after Armstrong returned in 2009, he was not as powerful. He worked with Danilo Di Luca to stage a protest of the stage conditions in the Giro d'Italia's Milan stage, but failed. Organiser Angelo Zomegnan shook his head in disagreement, and the stage and the race went on.
Wiggins has won most stage races this year, scoring a new triple crown along the way: Paris-Nice, Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné. In the Tour, he has led for the last seven days.
The French and international media respect him for his achievements. They look past the Tour results and to the progression from his track days.
The win might even mean more in Great Britain if Wiggins took it instead of Chris Froome given his name recognition. Wiggins has three Olympic gold medals and guided Mark Cavendish to a World Championships title in Copenhagen last year.
The team's backers might even be asking for a Wiggins Tour win. Sports director, Sean Yates, said, "No, not to my knowledge."
Wiggins does appear to be the boss on the road in this Tour, even if he is uncomfortable with the title.
"I don't think it's important for the peloton to have a boss. I think we should have our own voice really, I don't think anyone should be above anybody else. At the end of the day, we're all equal, especially as bike riders," Wiggins said.
"In the past, when there have been bosses and that, it's more through fear than respect, certainly it's something I sensed. There are leaders in the peloton that everybody looks up to and respects as riders. I think they're more important, they're not necessarily the ones that are always winning, but they are more the voice of the peloton."
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
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Wiggins taking nothing for granted in 'dream scenario'
Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins
Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage 13 by Graham Watson
Stage 12 by Graham Watson
Stage 11 by Graham Watson
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage 10 live coverage
Stage nine live coverage
Stage six live coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever