Bradley Wiggins: British cycling star announces retirement

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GENT, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 20: Sir Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain and Team John Saey - Callant talks in a press conference after victory during the final day of the 76th 6 Days of Gent race at Kuipke Track Velodrome on November 20, 2016 in Gent, Belgium. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Bradley Wiggins, the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France and a five-time Olympic champion, has announced his retirement.

The 36-year-old, whose use of therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for a longstanding asthma complaint has been scrutinized in recent months, made the announcement via his official Facebook page.

“I have been lucky enough to live a dream and fulfill my childhood aspiration of making a living and a career out of the sport I fell in love with at the age of 12,” Wiggins said in a statement Wednesday.

“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.”

Wiggins won the 2012 Tour de France with Team Sky and competed at five Summer Olympics for Great Britain in both track and road races.

His first Olympic medal — a bronze — came in the team pursuit at the 2000 Sydney Games before claiming gold (individual pursuit), silver (team pursuit 4,000m) and bronze (madison) in Athens four years later.

Two more track golds (individual and team pursuit) followed in 2008 at Beijing, and at London 2012 he delighted home crowds by winning the individual time trial road event.

Returning to the track this year, Wiggins won a final gold in the team pursuit in Rio in August to take his tally of Olympic medals to eight, one more than fellow cyclists Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny.

Following August’s Rio Games, he has fought hard to defend his professional reputation following the leak of his medical records by the hacking group, Fancy Bears.

The release of what was supposedly the World Anti-Doping Agency’s confidential data revealed that Wiggins was given three TUEs to use triamcinolone — a substance used to treat allergies and asthma — before the Tour de France in 2011 and 2012 as well as the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

The exemptions were granted by the UCI, world cycling’s governing body, and there is no suggestion Wiggins broke any rules.

This month, his former Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford told British MPs that a “mystery package” delivered to Wiggins at an event before the 2011 Tour de France contained fluimucil — an unrestricted decongestant drug.

“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,” Wiggins added in his Facebook statement.

“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.”