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Icons by Bradley Wiggins



To misquote Paul Smith's endorsement, ‘if, like me, you are a fan of Bradley Wiggins, you must have this book’

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If you ever wanted to know about the events and people that influenced Bradley Wiggins' early cycling career and led to his love of the sport, then Icons is the book for you. Some might feel that Wiggins has tested the loyalty of his fans with the number of his books already published, but there is no denying that Icons does as promised and 'sheds light on the philosophy and psychology that comprise the unique mindset of a cycling champion'.

  • Pros: A lot of personal insight into what inspired Bradley Wiggins
  • Cons: Covers some familiar ground

Wiggins has never needed much encouragement to produce a biography for every stage of his career, but I guess that the foray into rowing didn't provide enough material for another one – so he has now taken a different approach: Icons is more memoir than biography, built around a few 'iconic' riders who made a big impression on Wiggins during his formative years.

The book has been co-written with Herbie Sykes, and between them they supply a little bit of history about each of the 21 riders covered, supported with a fine selection of images; however, you will find little new material there, so the real appeal is reading about the influence that each rider has had on Wiggins' career – often starting out by reading about them in magazines, then meeting them in later life, and sometimes even racing against them.

Icons by Bradley Wiggins 3 - reproduced with kind permission of HarperCollins.jpg

Reproduced with kind permission of HarperCollins

Not all the chosen icons are as obvious as Eddy Merckx or Fabian Cancellara, but for various reasons they all made an impression on Wiggins. Riders such as Freddie Maertens and Marco Pantani were deserving, but just didn't make the cut because 'you have to draw the line somewhere'.

However justified he is in including a chapter on Lance Armstrong, Wiggins recognises that this will be controversial with the opening words 'look away now if you're easily offended'. In what was no doubt all part of the pre-launch publicity, Wiggins has commented on that decision, saying that Armstrong was more iconic than an icon: never mind that both words have the same derivation, because the intention was presumably to be provocative rather than accurate – so job done.

Rather than dwelling on Lance's misdemeanours, Wiggins really focuses on what made Armstrong 'a 21st-century cultural and social phenomenon'. Given that people's views on Armstrong are pretty well polarised, I suspect this chapter would receive the same comments regardless of what he wrote; in reality Wiggins supplies some well-considered points in support of his choice.

> Buyer's Guide: 28 books every cyclist should have on their shelves

Although this is the latest (but maybe not the last) book from Wiggins, there is no update on the stories that have developed since any previous biography – such as 'Jiffygate' and TUE abuse.

Wiggins does, however, try to have the last word on a few controversies that have raged over the years – such as his relationship with Chris Froome. For the 2012 Tour de France, Wiggins felt that he had 'earned the right to lead the team', and did not welcome Froome jeopardising that by 'riding for himself'. Two years later, Wiggins wanted to ride le Tour again in the role of a domestique: 'I felt that I'd earned that, but Chris really didn't want me there.'

Wiggins is known as a collector of cycling memorabilia, and in particular jerseys; photographs of those in his collection that relate to the featured riders appear throughout the book, and provide tangible evidence of Wiggins' love for the sport – and his desire to 'appreciate its history and culture'.

Sometimes we are told the story of how a jersey came to be in Wiggins' collection, which often involved swapping with one of his own jerseys. At one stage his financial circumstances were such that he had to sell a prized jersey, because 'Cath and I needed a pram much more than I needed an Eddy Merckx jersey'.

Icons by Bradley Wiggins 5 - reproduced with kind permission of HarperCollins.jpg

Reproduced with kind permission of HarperCollins

Wiggins also seems to have a few rather special bikes in his collection, as you can see from the pictures in the gallery here. You can also see the montage of some of the cuttings and photos from the book that appears inside the front (and rear) cover, and it makes for an eye-catching and revealing introduction to the book.

Icons by Bradley Wiggins 2 - reproduced with kind permission of HarperCollins.jpg

Reproduced with kind permission of HarperCollins

I felt that Icons had many similarities to the Paul Smith Scrapbook; indeed, fellow-knights Smith and Wiggins feature in both, and both have been described as 'a love letter to the sport of cycling'.


To misquote Paul Smith's endorsement, 'if, like me, you are a fan of Bradley Wiggins, you must have this book'

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Make and model: Icons by Bradley Wiggins

Size tested: 320pp

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

From HarperCollins:

With a foreword by Eddy Merckx

The world of professional cycling is fraught with fierce competition, fervent dedication and unerring ambition, and only a handful of competitors reach iconic status. Among them is Sir Bradley Wiggins – a man uniquely placed to reflect on the history of this remarkable sport and its unforgettable titans.

In Icons, Wiggins takes the reader on an extraordinarily intimate journey through the sport, presenting key pieces from his never-before-seen collection of memorabilia. Over the course of his illustrious career, he amassed hundreds of items often gifts from its greatest and most controversial figures. Each reflects an icon, a race or a moment that fundamentally influenced Wiggins on both a personal and professional level.

By exploring the lives and achievements of 21 of the sport's key figures among them Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurin and Tom Simpson Wiggins sheds new light on what professional cycling demands of its best competitors. Icons lauds their triumphs, elucidates their demons and sheds light on the philosophy and psychology that comprise the unique mindset of a cycling champion.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Title: Icons

Author: Bradley Wiggins

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date: 1/11/18

Format: Hardback

Pages: 320

ISBN: 9780008301743

Price: £25

Rate the product for value:

Fairly expensive at full price, even with the level of illustrations, but discounts are already available.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The extra insight it brings beyond that in existing Wiggins books.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The amount of old ground covered, of both Wiggins and the icons.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only to a Wiggins fan.

Use this box to explain your overall score

Icons will be essential reading for any fan of Wiggins, and for them it is a solid 4 stars; if you are not a fan, then the book is unlikely to be of interest, no matter how good it is.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 55  Height:   Weight:

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding

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