Bradley Wiggins' hopes of successfully defending his Tour de France crown in 2012 could hinge on how he manages his social calendar in the winter, Sky team chief Dave Brailsford Wednesday. Wiggins became Britain's first winner of the race's prestigious yellow jersey on July 22 after a solid three-week campaign in which he won both of the race's two long time trials.
The 32-year-old Briton, a previous winner of three Olympic golds in track cycling, maintained his peak fitness to win a fourth gold in the road race time trial last week. That win, and his Tour de France triumph, means Wiggins is set to be nominated for a number of awards between now and his next major race, the Tour of Britain, in September. But it is how he deals with his private engagements in the winter that Brailsford is concerned about.
He fears Wiggins "career-defining victory" could take his eye off the ball during the crucial winter months when Grand Tour contenders put in thousands of miles of base training. "It will be very difficult," Brailsford said on the fringes of the Olympic Games Wednesday. "Bradley will get pulled this winter from award ceremonies to media things to all the things that normally aren't there in life and enables him to train, he will inevitably get asked to do a lot of that this winter. "And the challenge with a lot of guys who hit a peak, they go through all of that and while everyone else is training really, really hard, they're not. Not because they don't want to, it's just difficult to fit it all in." Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong was notorious for training on Christmas day. A married father of two, Wiggins, by contrast, is known to enjoy socialising when not training for specific goals.
When asked after is time trial victory last week how he would like to mark his recent history-making feats, Wiggins replied: "Vodka tonic helps. I'll have a few of them tonight." Brailsford, who is also chief of Britain's successful track cycling programme, added: "That's why guys had repeated success on something like the Tour de France, like (Lance) Armstrong. "It's a phenomenal achievement, in that sense, to manage your life and to have the discipline to manage your life. "And that's the challenge for Bradley really now, is to manage that portion."