Sir Bradley Wiggins has risked the condemnation of the cycling world after praising Lance Armstrong as the “perfect winner” of the Tour de France.
Wiggins, the first Brit to win the world’s most famous bike race, hails the disgraced American sportsman in a new book paying tribute to a series of the sport’s stars, according to The Times.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour titles after admitting to doping after years of denials.
In the book ‘Icons’, Wiggins begins a chapter on Armstrong by warning: “Look away now if you’re easily offended.”
He writes: “Legend has it that Henri Desgrange, the father of the Tour, envisaged a ‘perfect winner’ … the ideal Tour de France would have one finisher, a type of super-athlete who would not only defeat his opponents but also whatever nature might throw at him.”
Wiggins goes on to say that champions tend to be masochistic, obsessive “and, on occasion, borderline sociopathic”, adding: “(The winner) is always a very special, very driven human being. Therein lies the paradox of Lance’s having being stripped. His opponents didn’t necessarily like him, but … sure as hell respected him.”
The British cyclist, who won the Tour in 2012, describes Armstrong as the “meaty-looking American” who inspired him to take up the sport.
Wiggins has previously said the American “doesn’t need to” apologise for tarnishing the sport.
The British sportsman has himself repeatedly denied doping.
A report by a committee of MPs accused Team Sky, its boss Sir Dave Brailsford and Wiggins of “crossing an ethical line” by asking for therapeutic use exemptions for banned medication they did not really need.
Wiggins branded the allegations as “malicious”, arguing that he would have “had more rights if I’d murdered someone”.