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Wiggins: Cycling's future is bright post Armstrong blood letting

By Chris Murphy, CNN
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Fri July 19, 2013
Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins thinks cycling has a bright future now the controversy surrounding Lance Armstrong has dissipated. Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins thinks cycling has a bright future now the controversy surrounding Lance Armstrong has dissipated.
HIDE CAPTION
Lancing the boil
In absentia
Damp squib
It was all yellow
Time traveller
History maker
A dream fulfilled
Olympic effort
Talk of the town
Arise Sir Bradley
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins says cycling has a bright future
  • Wiggins says sport can move on after Lance Armstrong's revelations on doping
  • First Tour after Armstrong's confession will occur without injured Wiggins
  • Englishman says Tour still seen as the pinnacle of any cyclist's career

(CNN) -- After the blood letting and recriminations in the wake of Lance Armstrong's doping confession, cycling continues to face questions over whether the sport is riding clean.

The fall out from Armstrong's public confession sent shock waves through the sport and current Tour de France leader Chris Froome has voiced his frustration at continued questions about doping.

So much so that Team Sky gave French newspaper L'Equipe data of 18 of Froome's climbs since he made his major breakthrough in 2011, leaving the French newspaper's sports science expert, Fred Grappe, satisfied the results were consistent with doping-free riding.

Froome's teammate and reigning Tour de France champion, four-time Olympic gold medalist and Knight of the British realm Bradley Wiggins insists the sport is on the path to a bright future.

Transparency

The 33-year-old's place in cycling's elite circle was cemented by his success in the sport's showcase event 12 months ago, the first time a Briton has claimed the coveted crown.

And though injury has robbed him of the chance to defend his title in 2013, Wiggins thinks the sport is in rude health now the furore surrounding its shamed American star has begun to subside.

"The thing with the whole Lance story is his confession wasn't the tip of the iceberg where now all these other problems of the sport have now arisen," Wiggins told CNN's Changing Gears series, speaking ahead of the Tour de France.

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"His problem was the final chapter of how the sport was 10, 15 years ago. That can now be put to bed and we can focus now on what's great about the sport now and the athletes we have.

"I think that's a great starting point for the future of the sport."

Read: Doping past haunts Tour

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after admitting to persistent use of banned substances during his halcyon days at the sport's lofty peak.

Wiggins denies the supremacy of Team Sky in last year's race -- that hinted they could dominate for years to come -- could propel other teams and riders towards the illicit substances that robbed Armstrong of his legacy.

"I don't think they're thinking that," he said. "I think we're the role model, the template of how things are being done now. There's no secret of how we're doing it. We're very transparent, very clear.

"There's been a lot of riders at this team that have left for other teams that know how it works here, so slowly that will get around and I don't think people (will) revert back to that.

"I think the sport is in such a strong position with the anti-doping, the biological passports, that it's becoming harder and harder for people to go back to the old ways.

"I think one of the things that stood out for me, with the whole Lance Armstrong thing, was that he even said 10, 15 years ago there was no out of competition testing.

"It's a daily thing with the whereabouts system, giving your whereabouts seven days of the week. It's a completely different sport now and I think we're leading the way as a sport for other sports to follow.

"No matter what you're doing, you'll always get people that are cynical and are doubters.

"But by continuing to do what we're doing by answering these questions and putting ourselves out there to be shot at in time, it might take 15 years, I think we will gain credibility."

Unfolding drama

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A measure of the strength in depth in the sport is evident even within Wiggins' own Team Sky ranks.

Even if the 33-year-old had been fit enough to take part in this year's Tour, he would have been playing a supporting role to teammate and fellow countryman Froome, who finished second behind Wiggins in the 2012 Tour, but has dominated this year's race.

Read: Wiggins out out of Tour de France

Wiggins has since stated he might not take part in Le Tour again, citing the sacrifices required as too demanding for him and his young family.

But even if he doesn't grace the roads of France again, Wiggins remains in no doubt as to the competition's pedigree.

"I think for a professional cyclist it's the height of your sport," he explained.

"I'm sat here now as the current winner of the Tour de France, sports personality in the UK, Sir Bradley Wiggins, and I've got that because I won the Tour de France.

"People are in love with this sport and they're in love with it because of the drama that unfolds each day -- the grit and determination people have to go through to win and I think that's what inspires people.

"It's had a tainted history but I think all that is a reminder of where the sport was and where it is now. And it's in a great position."

While its place in the pantheon of sporting theater is assured, Wiggins can attest to its attrition.

For its legions of fans, watching elite athletes push the limits of endurance day after day is as captivating a sight as there is, but that doesn't mean it is always fun to participate in.

"It's one thing racing the tour and being part of it and getting to Paris," Wiggins said. "It's another thing being up there, even wearing the jersey and being on telly every day and interviewed every day.

"At the time it's stressful, it's maybe not enjoyable all the time. But when you look back, when you look at it, you think 'that was some experience really' so it's an incredible thing.

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