Sir Bradley Wiggins has revealed he is taking a degree in social work as he looks to redefine himself after his cycling career.
The 39-year-old was the first Briton to win the Tour de France in 2012 and took Olympic time trial gold just days later, but said he no longer wants to be defined by his sporting success and is instead trying to find ways to help people.
“I don’t give a shit about my cycling career now,” Wiggins told the Big Issue magazine. “I’m just detached from it, I don’t want to live off the back of it. I live off of being me, and I’m happy in my own skin.”
Wiggins, who briefly attempted to become an elite rower after his cycling career ended, has now found success as a pundit for Eurosport, and during the Tour this year he drew rave reviews for his commentary when riding on a motorbike, laughing and joking with riders in the peloton.
However Wiggins, who had a difficult relationship with his estranged father after growing up in Kilburn, said he also wants to move into social work.
“When I was offered a TV role I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it,” he said. “It took me a while to find myself, redefine myself, and come back to cycling without an ego. So now I can do the TV job, but I’ve also enrolled to do an open university degree in social work. I want to help people.
“Those horrific things I saw when I was growing up … nothing can shock me now, and I want to use that mental toughness working as a social worker. And when people say, ‘Oh you’re that cyclist’, I’ll say: ‘No, that was a few years ago. I’m a social worker now.’”
Wiggins’s reputation has suffered some damage since his retirement. The Fancy Bears hackers revealed details of therapeutic use exemptions Wiggins was granted ahead of some of his biggest races, including the 2012 Tour, while an investigation into the contents of a jiffy bag delivered to the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine for his use was inconclusive. Wiggins called the investigation a “malicious witch-hunt” at the time.
The interview in the Big Issue will appear just a few days after it was announced that Team Wiggins Le Col, the professional development team Wiggins formed in 2015, will close its doors at the end of the season, having helped a number of young British riders reach the WorldTour.
Wiggins was the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2012, with his Tour success helping to transform the popularity of cycling and his pose on a throne in front of Hampton Court Palace after his Olympic gold becoming one of the defining images of the London Games – as were his late-night celebrations. But Wiggins is clear that is now all behind him.
“It’s nice to be remembered but I can’t keep waltzing in with a rock’n’roll haircut and a suede suit on, drunk. I’ve moved on from that person. Everything ends, everything has to end.”