A TRIUMPHANT Bradley Wiggins was due back home today to have some time off with his family and allow the realisation to sink in - that he has become the first British man to win the Tour de France.
But the country’s new favourite cyclist will not be sliding out of the saddle and into the armchair just yet.
Wiggins is thought to be planning a ride on his local Lancashire roads and must later join his fellow cyclists in preparing for the Olympic road race this weekend.
The 32-year-old made history yesterday when he crossed the finish line on Paris’s Champs-Elysees, telling reporters: “Job done”.
David Cameron led congratulations, describing his victory as an “immense feat of physical and mental ability”.
Wiggins’ victory propels him into the league of Britain’s greatest sportsmen, with calls for him to be knighted. He is already the bearer of six Olympic medals, three of them gold.
Supporters at Herne Hill Velodrome, in south-east London, where he began racing as a boy, celebrated his result yesterday, with one describing how she remembered the young Wiggins telling her he would one day win the Tour de France.
Wiggins punched his arms in the air and clapped as he crossed the finish line.
The final stage was the 13th consecutive day that he had worn the race leader’s yellow jersey in the 99th edition of the gruelling 20 stage, 3,497 kilometre (2,173-mile) race.
He completed the day three minutes and 21 seconds ahead of Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, who became only the second Briton to take the podium in the history of the event.
Their team-mate and fellow Brit Mark Cavendish won the final stage of the race into Paris after powering to the front in his rainbow jersey 400 metres from the line.
Minutes after winning the race, Wiggins said: “I don’t know what to say really that I haven’t already said yesterday. I’ve had 24 hours for it to sort of soak in. Today we were just on a mission to finish the job off with Cav, so job done really.”
He later waved to fans as he stepped up on to the podium to collect his trophy. After apologising for speaking in English, he told the crowd: “I just wanted to say thank you for all the support all the way around.
“It’s been a magical couple of weeks for the team and for British cycling.
“Some dreams can come true, and now my old mother over there, her son’s won the Tour de France.”
Jubilant scenes were seen in the Lancashire village of Eccleston, near Chorley, where London-raised Wiggins lives with his wife Cath and children Ben and Isabella.
He made the move to the North West to be closer to Manchester’s Velodrome where British Cycling is based.
In Herne Hill, where a large crowd gathered around a big screen TV at the track to cheer “Wiggo” on, Jan Slater, 74, from Forest Hill, south east London, said she remembered him as a boy who “used to sit in the clubroom with a towel over his head with his earphones in listening to The Jam”.
“He was a very good cyclist, he was really dedicated to it. He was serious about it. He did not play around,” she said.
“When he was about 12 he would say to everyone that he was going to win the Tour de France and here we go, he was right.
“It was absolutely fantastic (for him to win). I can’t believe it.”
Mr Cameron said: “I’m like everyone in the country - absolutely delighted.
“Bradley Wiggins has scaled one of the great heights of British sporting achievement, to be the first person in 109 years to win the Tour de France is an immense feat of physical and mental ability and aptitude and I think the whole country wants to say well done, brilliant - the perfect backdrop and start to the Olympics.”
London mayor Boris Johnson said: “Huge congratulations must go to Bradley Wiggins. His incredible determination, focus and will to win blew away the rest of the field and propelled this legendary Londoner to the summit of his sport.
“His inspirational performances, ably supported by his fellow Team Sky riders including Brits Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish, will encourage thousands more people to take to two wheels.”
He also confirmed that London will bid to host the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in 2016.
Yesterday’s result led bookmaker Coral to offer odds of 4/7 on Wiggins being named BBC Sports Personality of the Year while they are offering odds of 2/1 that he is given a knighthood before the end of next year.