Great Britain's most decorated Olympian of all-time, Sir Bradley Wiggins, has announced his retirement from professional cycling. "Wiggo" took to his official Facebook page on Wednesday (28 December) to reveal that he was calling time on a truly illustrious 20-year road and track career that saw the 36-year-old claim a total of eight Olympic medals and become the first British rider ever to win the Tour de France.
"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," he said. "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.
"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."
Belgian-born Wiggins, son of Australian endurance cyclist Gary, began his stellar Olympic haul by winning bronze in the team pursuit at Sydney 2000. He turned pro the following year and went on to become the first British athlete in 40 years to win three medals at the same Games with individual pursuit gold, team pursuit silver and madison bronze at Athens 2004.
He claimed further gold in both pursuit races in Beijing and followed up his success across the channel 10 days later by winning the men's time trial at London 2012. That latter victory led to Wiggins, the first man ever to win the Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal in the same year, moving one clear of rowing great Sir Steve Redgrave on the list of Britain's most successful Olympians. Further recognition of a remarkably successful 12 months came in the form of BBC Sports Personality of the Year and Velo d'Or honours.
Wiggins, a seven-time world champion who also won other stage races such as Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine , was knighted for his services to cycling at Buckingham Palace in December 2013 and later succeeded in breaking the UCI hour record at Lee Valley VeloPark in London. He bookended his Olympic legacy by surpassing fellow cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy as the first British athlete to win eight medals with further team pursuit success in Rio de Janeiro. Victory in the Ghent Six Day event alongside Mark Cavendish in November was the final triumph of his career.
Wiggins and former Team Sky teammate Chris Froome both saw their medical files stolen from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and published by hacking group Fancy Bears in September. Such a leak showed that the former, who suffers from asthma, had been granted therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for banned corticosteroid triamcinolone in order to treat respiratory problems and lifelong pollen allergies before the 2013 Giro d'Italia and the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Tour de France.
"This was not about trying to gain an unfair advantage, this was about putting myself back on a level playing field in order to compete at the highest level," Wiggins, whose treatments were approved by the UCI, subsequently told the Andrew Marr Show.
There is no suggestion that either Wiggins or Team Sky broke any rules.