Former cycle ace rooting for Wiggins

20 July 2012 / 17:44

The first Briton ever to win a stage of the Tour de France has paid tribute to Bradley Wiggins' "fantastic" achievement in this year's event which "puts British cycling at the top of the tree".

Brian Robinson, 81, is heading off to Paris for the end of the famous race and is fully expecting Wiggins to seal victory. Robinson won a stage of the Tour in 1958 and again in 1959. He said his reaction to Wiggins' successes in this year's event can be summed up as "euphoria - a job well done".

"It's fantastic," he said. "We never dreamed of this in my early days. We were scrubbing along at the back of the bunch. To go right through the bunch, if you like, and to get to the top by a Brit is great. It can't get any better, can it? And we've got back up as well."

Speaking at his home in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, where he still rides his bike regularly, Robinson rejected any suggestion modern cyclists have an easier time than those of his generation.

"I don't think so, no," he said. "Riding the bike is riding the bike. No matter how good the bike is, you've still got to push it.

"You've got to work at it 100% and, sometimes, a little bit over. The facilities are easier and probably the infrastructure of the sport, but you still have to do it."

He said: "It puts British cycling at the top of the tree, really, which I've longed for for a long time. It's been a long journey but since we've got lottery funding that's helped a great deal and we've got the structure now to bring on our youngsters, which is another great thing."

Robinson remembers riding to Windsor to watch the cycling at the 1948 Olympics with his brother Desmond and then competing in the road race at the 1952 Helsinki games where he came 27th.

Asked what he thought of Wiggins' chances in London, he said: "If he comes out the Tour in good shape and gets a decent rest this week, he's as good a chance as anyone because most of the other riders have been in the Tour anyway.

"If Bradley comes out in good physical shape, gets a good rest and gets his head into shape, I see no reason why not."