Sir Bradley Wiggins, the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, has once again spoken out about the alleged grooming he suffered at the hands of an unnamed cycling club coach during his early teenage years.
Now involved with an NSPCC campaign to help people spot signs of child abuse, Wiggins' latest comments on the Happy Place Podcast come almost a year since he first revealed he was groomed.
Speaking on an episode of the podcast released yesterday, Wiggins said it "hit me hard" recalling the three-year period, adding that incidents ranged from "very minor to borderline rape, sexual abuse".
"The hardest part was the campaign stuff, doing interviews about it," he said. "I was having to relive some of the minor incidents that happened to me with this coach to add weight to the campaign.
"This happened over a three-year period. I can't remember how many times it happened. We're talking about incidents from very minor to borderline rape, sexual abuse, whatever term you want to use.
"In recalling this stuff to add weight to the interviews and trying to really beef it up, I found I was recalling a lot of the incidents in my head over and over again — particularly this guy's face. It really hit me hard. I have to be careful how much I do to help people at the expense of myself."
Wiggins explained how he was 12 when they first met, the coach feeling his pulse and telling him "you'll be the greatest cyclist that ever lived", something he apparently told all the young riders.
"When I announced it, I got three messages from different clubmates who were in the same club at the same. They said that, 'looking back, we all knew really, and we should've done more to help you'," he continued.
"My greatest shame was that another man had done that to me. I couldn't get my head around the abnormality of that — particularly at 13. That is a trauma. From that moment, I pretended it didn't happen, and I dedicated my life to cycling as a distraction."
Saying he "hated" cycling, Wiggins believes his pursuit of the sport on the track was just a means of trying to feel closer to his father, a former professional cyclist who left the family when Wiggins was two and died in 2008.
"I was obsessed with cycling. Because I threw myself into cycling, I became like a sponge. When I do cycling commentaries, they call me the Oracle because I know what shoe someone was wearing in 1996, what race they won — it was like a religion to me," he said.
"Now I don't pay any interest to cycling — I couldn't care less. I don't watch cycling any more. I have no interest in it. It filled a massive void in my life with a view to be close to my dad."
In January, Wiggins said he "normalised" his alleged abuse and "swept [it] under the carpet". The seven-time Olympic medallist was speaking at an event to promote the NSPCC's 'Listen Up, Speak Up' campaign.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.