Bradley Wiggins looked back at going toe to toe with Lance Armstrong at the 2009 Tour de France, likening Armstrong’s ability to hide his suffering on tough climbs to befriending you and then slipping “the knife in your back.”
Wiggins made the comments in an interview with British three-time Olympic track cycling medalist Victoria Pendleton on BBC Radio.
Wiggins, the first Brit to win the Tour de France in 2012 and a seven-time Olympic cycling medalist, initially finished fourth in the 2009 Tour. Armstrong also raced the 2009 Tour, the first of his consecutive comeback Tours following his 2005 retirement. Armstrong initially finished third, one spot ahead of Wiggins.
Armstrong was stripped of that result, along with his record seven Tour titles, due to doping during his career. (Armstrong has denied he doped in his 2009-10 comeback). That put Wiggins on the podium, retroactively.
“I finished fourth, or subsequently third, whichever way you look at Lance Armstrong in your life,” Wiggins said in the BBC Radio interview. (Wiggins previously used incendiary language about Armstrong, saying the cancer survivor was lying when he said he didn’t dope during the 2009 Tour).
Wiggins, who hasn’t ridden the Tour since 2012 and likely won’t ever again, went on to discuss suffering in the Tour, a three-week, 2,000-mile stage race.
“It’s as much about destroying your competitors’ morale,” Wiggins said.
Armstrong proved quite talented in that respect.
“He was always talking to me on these climbs,” Wiggins said. “In the heat of the moment, he would go [American accent], ‘Wiggo, you even trying, man?’ … That was his tactic was to talk to you as if he was your best friend. He was incredible at that, almost befriending you, and then he’d slip the knife in your back. You could do that in the Tour de France when you’re climbing hour after hour on these climbs, giving you the impression that he wasn’t suffering.”
Wiggins, 34, also reiterated his desire to compete in a fifth Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. With one medal in Rio, Wiggins will pass track cyclist Chris Hoy for the most Olympic medals won by a British athlete.
Wiggins won the World Road Cycling Championships time trial for the first time Sept. 24, but his best medal hope in Rio may be on the track.
Wiggins won a silver medal for England as part of the team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games in July, his first major venture into track cycling since 2008.
Great Britain made the podium in the team pursuit at the last four Olympics, three times with Wiggins.
“I still have this romantic dream of finishing in Rio, winning a fifth Olympic gold medal,” Wiggins said when asked by Pendleton of what motivates him now. “Whether that happens or not is another thing.”