Bradley Wiggins admits he became “fixated” on Cadel Evans after his rival’s win at the 2011 Tour de France – and “not in a very nice way”.
Wiggins, speaking on his podcast to promote a revealing interview between him and Evans, was one of the favourites for that edition of the Tour but was forced to abandon after crashing on Stage 7.
The Brit returned home with a broken collarbone and watched Evans soar into the yellow jersey late on.
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“I crashed out that Tour and felt I had a good chance to win it,” said Wiggins.
And then going into 2012, ashamedly, I had fixated on him and became obsessed with him. And in not a very nice way actually in my head.
“It was never a reflection on him as a person, it was just more like a boxer going into a fight and I wanted to replicate… I watched him win the Tour and was in admiration of him winning that while I was sat at home with a broken collarbone.
“It was a contradiction, [as it was also] very inspirational watching him do that and realising that if Cadel could do it [then I could too].”
Evans, one of three non-Europeans to officially win the Tour, snatched the yellow jersey on the final competitive stage from Andy Schleck in an individual time trial in Grenoble.
“I always looked at the likes of [Alberto] Contador and the Schlecks as phenomenal athletes, whereas Cadel was coming from a mountain bike background and me from a track background,” continued Wiggins.
“He was a supreme talent and what he did and was able to transfer that to the road and win the Tour de France.
“He was the first Australian winner of the Tour, he won it towards the end of the race, I remember watching him after the time trial when he took the jersey [on Stage 20] in Grenoble, with a day to go, and just the satisfaction that he’d won the Tour.
“And that joy of how much it meant to him and watching him win is what stuck with me all winter.”
Evans didn’t know it, but he had inadvertently become the source of Wiggins’ motivation to bounce back from injury in the 2012 season.
“Lance Armstrong said something very interesting on an ESPN documentary, that Jan Ullrich got him out of bed every morning. And Cadel was like that for me,” he said.
“Every time I went out, he got me out of bed in the morning.
“I remember getting to the Dauphine [in 2012] and I had the jersey after Stage 2. He started two minutes ahead of me in the time trial that I won and I remember I nearly caught him that day. All I thought about the whole time was going after Cadel.”
When reminded by host Graham Willgoss about Michael Jordan’s famous line – “it became personal for me” – Wiggins continued: “It did sadly. I say that sitting here today because life’s not supposed to be like that.
This unhealthy obsession really consumed me that Cadel was the person to beat.
“As it turned out, he wasn’t the person to beat. It was my own teammate Chris Froome, but it just shows you have to fixate on someone and I fixated in my head on Cadel and that was probably because I admired him so much. But it became a love-hate thing.”
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