Sir Bradley Wiggins has revealed he was sexually groomed by a coach when he was just 13 years old but ‘buried’ his ordeal because he feared his ‘violent’ stepfather.
The 2012 Tour de France winner and three-time Olympic champion spoke to Men’s Health UK magazine and said: ‘I was groomed by a coach when I was younger – I was about 13 – and I never fully accepted that.’
Asked if he was groomed sexually, Wiggins added: ‘Yes. It all impacted me as an adult…I buried it. My stepfather was quite violent to me, he used to call me a f****t for wearing Lycra and stuff, so I didn’t think I could tell him.
‘I was such a loner…I just wanted to get out of the environment. I became so insular. I was quite a strange teenager in many ways and I think the drive on the bike stemmed from adversity.’
Wiggins, 41, made the revelation in an interview with Men’s Health ‘Talking Heads’ columnist and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell in the May issue of the magazine, which goes on sale on April 20.
Wiggins has previously spoken about suffering from depression and a difficult childhood.
He said he had spent much of his life trying to understand his relationship with his father, Australian cyclist Gary Wiggins, who walked out on the family when Bradley was young and who died in 2008 following a fight at a house party.
Sir Bradley Wiggins spoke to Men’s Health UK magazine and said: ‘I was groomed by a coach when I was younger – I was about 13 – and I never fully accepted that’
Wiggins, 41, made the revelation in an interview with Men’s Health ‘Talking Heads’ columnist and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell in the May issue of the magazine, which goes on sale on April 20th
He said he had spent much of his life trying to understand his relationship with his father, Australian cyclist Gary Wiggins, who walked out on the family when Bradley was young and who died in 2008 following a fight at a house party
‘It was definitely to do with my dad,’ Wiggins said when asked what he had tried to run from in his life.
‘Never getting answers when he was murdered in 2008. He left us when I was little, so I met him for the first time when I was 18. We rekindled some kind of relationship but then we didn’t speak for the last couple of years before he was murdered…
‘He was my hero. I wanted to prove myself to him. He was a good cyclist – he could have been really good – but he was a wasted talent. He was an alcoholic, a manic depressive, quite violent and he took at lot of amphetamines and (sports) drugs back then.’
Wiggins reached the pinnacle of his sport in 2012, when he became the first British winner of the Tour before winning Olympic gold in the time trial in London just days later.
Though he had further successes – winning the world time trial in 2014 and a third Olympic team pursuit gold in 2016 – Wiggins said 2012 was the year he stopped enjoying professional cycling.
‘After winning the Tour de France, then winning at the Olympics, life was never the same again,’ he said. ‘I was thrust into this fame and adulation that came with the success…I’m an introverted, private person.
‘I didn’t know who ‘me’ was, so I adopted a kind of veil – a sort of rock star veil. It wasn’t really me… It was probably the unhappiest period of my life.
‘Everything I did was about winning for other people, and the pressures that came with being the first British winner of the Tour. I really struggled with it.’
But Wiggins added that he has now found a way to manage his mental health.
‘I have to have routine,’ he said. ‘Training every day, it’s important. Not drinking too much…with my depression, if I’m not looking after myself it manifests more like a mania.
‘I always thought of depression as taking you to a dark room in a stoop. I try to be funnier and end up being shocking and contentious.’
Wiggins split from his wife of 16 years Catherine in May 2020 before dating PR executive Laura Hartshorne.
The Tour De France winner also underwent a dramatic style transformation in photos of the couple that emerged in December 2020.
Bradley Wiggins of Team Great Britain and his then-wife Catherine pose for photographs after at the medal ceremony for the Men’s Team Pursuit Final for Gold on Day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Discussing the impact of the grooming, he said: ‘I was such a loner…I just wanted to get out of the environment. I became so insular. I was quite a strange teenager in many ways and I think the drive on the bike stemmed from adversity’
A photo of a young Bradley Wiggins. Taken from Wiggins autobiography ‘ Bradley Wiggins – in pursuit of glory’
Sir Bradley Wiggins (left) with son Ben Wiggins during day one of the HSBC UK National Track Championships at the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome, Newport
Bradley Wiggins at the Beijing Olympics with his gold medal after winning the Team Pursuit alongside Ed Clancy, Paul Manning and Geraint Thomas
Gone were the large sideburns and Mod-style haircut of the the Olympic gold medallist’s sporting heyday.
Instead Wiggins looked more hipster than rider with a bushy ginger beard and closely-cropped haircut.
Wiggins had initially kept his new relationship under wraps but later moved into Laura’s London home.
His ex-wife Cath has stayed in Preston with their two children, Ben, 14, and Isabella, 12.
Laura is an art graduate who once worked for a modelling agency with Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell on its books.
The PR executive also co-founded a dog biscuit company called Bark ‘n’ Bites.
In his 2008 autobiography, In Pursuit of Glory, Wiggins wrote about how his mother Linda’s new partner Brendan became his ‘quasi-stepfather’ when he was a teenager and was ‘totally supportive.’
Until the couple split in his late teens, ‘we rubbed along fine,’ he wrote.
But four years ago, in a post-retirement theatre tour, he spoke candidly about how his stepfather would beat him.