My Sportsman: Bradley Wiggins
Godspeed to Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain, recently hospitalized with broken ribs after colliding with a van while out on a training ride -- a sobering, scary finish to one of the most brilliant years ever turned in by a cyclist.
Ten days after he became the first British rider to win the Tour de France, the 32-year-old father of two took gold on his native soil in the Olympic time trial. Afterward, addressing he likelihood that he would knighted, he said, of the decree given to those so honored, "I'd just put it in a drawer."
Wiggo isn't my Sportsman of the Year just because he's a smart, self-deprecating, highly original character and gigantic talent who turned in a season for the ages. His timing had to damned good, too. In a year which saw the appalling underbelly of this sport exposed
Wiggins had long been a podium threat. How did he break through? Due in large part to the "biological passport" system introduced to the sport four years ago, the pro peloton is gradually -- and, let's face it,
The same can be said of its intrepid, outspoken leader. Even during the sport's most drug-drenched days, Wiggins was in the minority in the peloton, never shy about savaging the dopers. When one of his teammates tested positive during the '07 Tour, Wiggins dropped his Cofidis kit in a trashcan, rather than be identified with that squad.
Those made suspicious by his dominance in long time trials ignore the fact that the difference between him and world's best has always been slender, in that key discipline. Many of the guys he consistently finished behind -- Alexander Vinokourov, Andrey Kasheschkin, Ruben Plaza -- have since been exposed as dirty.
"If I doped," Wiggins
I believe he's clean, and wish him a speedy recovery, even as I salute him for helping to heal his sport.