Sir Bradley Wiggins has announced his retirement from cycling, ending a career that saw him win a British record eight Olympic medals as well as the country’s first Tour de France title.
The 36-year-old posted a statement on his Instagram page on Wednesday afternoon, accompanying a picture of his collected race jerseys, medals and trophies.
In it, he said: “2016 is the end of the road for this chapter, onwards and upwards, ‘feet on the ground, head in the clouds’ kids from Kilburn don’t win Olympic Golds and Tour de Frances! They do now.”
Wiggins, who conquered his sport on the road as well as in the velodrome, won his fifth Olympic gold in Rio this year as part of the team pursuit, adding to a tally that also includes a silver and two bronzes.
He competed in five successive Games from Sydney 2000 and reached a career high in 2012 when he completed an unprecedented double of a maiden Tour de France victory with Team Sky and a home Olympic triumph in the time-trial in London.
His retirement message also read: “I have been lucky enough to live a dream and fulfil my childhood aspiration of making a living and a career out of the sport I fell in love with at the age of 12. I’ve met my idols and ridden with and alongside the best for 20 years.
“I have worked with the world’s best coaches and managers who I will always be grateful to for their support. What will stick with me forever is the support and love from the public though thick and thin, all as a result of riding a pushbike for a living. 2012 blew my mind and was a gas.
“Cycling has given me everything and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wonderful wife Cath and our amazing kids.”
Retirement in 2016 had long been anticipated for Wiggins but last month he won the Ghent Six Day alongside Mark Cavendish and suggested he was unsure about his future, saying: “I don’t know, I still have really good legs.”
That race, alongside his long-time partner and in the city of his birth, will now go down as the last triumph in a long list of achievements.
As well as his Olympic and Tour de France successes, Wiggins boasts eight World Championship wins, four Commonwealth Games silvers and, in 2015, the world Hour record.
But his announcement also comes at a time when cycling is once again under the microscope of anti-doping agencies.
On the very same Instagram page that bears his farewell is a mocked-up picture of Wiggins as Braveheart with the legend “They can never take my package!!”.
That is an apparent reference to a delivery made to Team Sky at the 2011 Dauphine Libere, a key Tour de France warm-up race.
The jiffy bag brought to France by British Cycling employee Simon Cope has been the subject of a UK Anti-Doping investigation into alleged ‘’wrongdoing’’ ever since the story was reported by the Daily Mail in October.
Team Sky chief Sir Dave Brailsford told a Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee last week the package contained fluimucil, an over-the-counter decongestant available inexpensively in France.
All parties deny breaking any rules.
Shane Sutton, former British Cycling team director and a close associate of Wiggins, appeared at the same hearing as Brailsford and provided a passionate defence of both the rider and the wider Team Sky programme.
‘’Knowing the kid (Wiggins) for many, many years as far as I’m concerned he never worked outside any rules,” Sutton told MPs.
‘’I can’t state strongly enough there was no wrongdoing on any part of Brad and Team Sky.’’
Reacting to Wiggins’ retirement on Sky Sports News, Australian Sutton reflected on his friend’s greatest triumphs.
“To win in the Tour is the dream for everybody, and a win in the Tour is probably his greatest victory, there’s no two ways about that,” he said.
“There’s that many (successes) but the one Bradley adores the most is probably his world time trial championship (in 2014).
“That was one that was missing from the palmares (honours) and that was the one he always wanted. He got there and he’ll look back on that as probably one of the big ones for him.”