Bradley Wiggins: My Time - An Autobiography Hardcover – 8 Nov 2012
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"Revealing and compelling... Events that we thought we’d seen from every angle are given a fresh twist" (Tim Lewis Observer)
"Like the man himself, captivating" (Simon Yeend Daily Express)
"We get raw thrilling Wiggins, as if we’re his mates in the pub as he tells us how he won the Tour de France and Olympic gold for afters" (Nick Pitt Sunday Times)
"Listening to Bradley Wiggins is a pleasure unmatched in British sport. Whether the topic is gearing or psychology, Wiggins speaks in paragraphs of pure practical wisdom, liberally peppered with swearwords... The latest reflections from the sage of Kilburn ring true and clear" (Rowland Manthorpe Sunday Telegraph)
"It bristles with details of his sinew-straining dedication and the almost maniacal attention to detail that powers any athlete to legend status" (Charlotte Heathcote Sunday Express)
A full-length, in-depth and intimate memoir by Bradley Wiggins charting his journey to become the first Briton ever to win the Tour de France and his country's most decorated Olympian.See all Product description
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In the run up to this year he could be talented, wayward, self deprecating, vaguely self-destructive, passionate, humble, arrogant, and everything else in between. Compared with the other British guys on the scene, he was always a bit of an enigma. He could at times display the passion and eloquence of David Millar, the sheer bloody single mindedness of Mark Cavendish, and - periodically - the humility and affability of Sir Chris Hoy.
Like many, I saw him crash out of the 2011 Tour and thought "Well that's a relief" - his heart didn't seem in it, and Team Sky looked on course to miss their stated goal of winning the premier cycle race within 5 years. Then, early on in the season, things were obviously right at Sky, and more importantly right at the point where it mattered; between Wiggins' ears.
The Tour de France 2012 was, if we're honest, a bit dull - Team Sky just shut the thing down after the first week. But this actually made it more intriguing; it was obviously a team effort, a well oiled machine working at 100%. Perhaps it was also a watershed? The point where the big personalities of old dominated the race through pyramid teams (Merckx, Hainault, Armstrong, etc).
Towards the end of the Tour, it was apparent that Sky could have chosen either Froome or Wiggins to win if they wished.
This is, in essence, what this book is about. Although notionally centred on Wiggins, it really is a narrative of how Team Sky and British Cycling came to dominate 2012 on the road, and on the track. The professionalism, the science, the commitment, and the co-ordination of Brailsford and co really stand out - it is no wonder our cycle stars won so much. Through Wiggins' eyes, we are treated to an insight into this - and mightily jealous I am too. There is no hiding the fact that it didn't always work, but I'd have loved to have had the opportunity to have been part of an organisation such as this.
It also goes a long way in explaining all the praise heaped upon British Cycling by the likes of Hoy, Pendleton, Clancey, Storey, Rowsell, Thomas, Cav, Wiggo, Millar, and so on - it really is world class, and the story of Wiggins in 2012 really captures it. Once you read this book, you'll realise that in reality the BMCs, Rabobanks, OPQS, Katusha, and so on were competing against the combined might of British Cycling. It does beg the question as to how were the European teams so amateurish for so long given the money involved in the sport in the continent?
But really, in my opinion, this is an outstanding appraisal of Dave Brailsford's organisation. Wiggins winning what he did in 2012 is because of Brailsford, without him I think Bradley would still be where he was in 2009; talented, but adrift.
I have owned this book for the last four years and I still find myself going back to it to read about certain parts. I find his approach to life and challenges to be different, admirable and somewhat relatable which has been helpful in my own life.
The picture that Bradley Wiggins paints of himself seems pretty plausible sat alongside his public utterances, and the book's good reception overall suggests that those who know at least someone involved in the story aren't all going round rubbishing it.
That makes the one place where the book really departs from previous public statements all the more interesting: the comments about Chris Froome. Mostly they are gently critical, on the lines of 'he's really talented but he's inexperienced and inconsistent'. The really critical stuff comes with the account of a controversial stage in the Tour de France where the Sky team's plans seemed to break down with Froome and Wiggins not cycling together as a team. Wiggins's account starts off as it he is going to be generous, with many references to confusion and communications problems. But by the end he's being very critical, saying he had no idea of what Froome was up to and he didn't like it - and departing from what he said in public at the time.
The contrast with his accounts of Mark Cavendish are striking. Wiggins and Cavendish have had their fair share of public ups and downs, and the book reflects that - but leaves the reader with a generous picture of Cavendish, placing responsibility for their periods of falling out on them both, and giving us an affectionate account of their joint history.
Overall the book is pretty much about 2012, with earlier events either in cycling or in Wiggins's life only covered is an as much as they are the lead up to his year of miraculous cycling.
It is far from being just a book about the racing on the road. There is a lot about family life and personal stresses outside the races, with the huge pressures that constant training generate. There is not much in the way of cycling jargon, so the non-sporting fan interested in this suddenly high-profile sport in the UK should be able to enjoy the book and learn about the sport.
A fewer reviewers have said they do not like the style. I found the rather workmanlike writing style great; it seems to reflect the way in which Wiggins speaks. He doesn't go for huge verbal flourishes in TV interviews and the book matches that. I think it's the better for that. A shame about some of the repetition and the slightly meandering narrative at times (rushed editing to get the book out quickly perhaps?). Small blemishes, however, that do not take much off the overall book.