Editor's note: This story contains details of childhood sexual abuse.

Appearing as a guest on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast, Bradley Wiggins opened up about being the victim of what he describes as “borderline rape and sexual abuse” from a male cycling coach when he was a junior rider.

Wiggins did not name the coach but noted that the man groomed him from the age of twelve, when they first met at a local cycling club. Wiggins said the abuse lasted for a period of three years.

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Wiggins went public about his abuse recently, first speaking about it during a 2022 Men’s Health interview with Alastair Campbell, former communications director for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and current advocate for mental health awareness.

Earlier this year, Wiggins appeared publicly in support of a plan to teach a million people about the signs of sexual abuse through the United Kingdom’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and their “Listen Up, Speak Up” campaign.

But during the in-depth podcast conversation, the Tour de France winner and five-time Olympic champion opened up in greater detail about the impact the abuse had on his life on and off the bike.

Wiggins said the horrors of his experience as a victim of sexual abuse was one of the elements that led him to dedicate himself fully to the bike.

“I dedicated my life to cycling as a distraction,” the British cycling legend said.

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Wiggins went on to explain how, since going public, he has heard from several other club members who’ve reported similar experiences with the unnamed coach, many citing a specific promise that each would become the “greatest cyclist of all time.”

Wiggins went on to say that, though he doesn’t pay much attention to cycling these days—despite his recent work as an analyst for GCN, a Tour de France motorbike reporter for Eurosport, and host of his own cycling podcast for Eurosport—it’s not something he misses. In fact, even when he was one of the most famous and successful bike racers in the world, he felt no enjoyment. Rather, his achievements were, for him, boxes to be ticked.

“People say it’s a shame that I’ve fallen out of love with cycling,” he said. “But I was never in love with it. I hated cycling, really. The act of riding a bike was a means to facilitate what I wanted to do with my life.”

Wiggins also said that, while it was difficult to recount the incidences of abuse, he felt it important to be open about his experiences to help advocate for others.

Editor's note: Further resources are available through the National Child Abuse Hotline which provides local referrals for services, a centralized call center that provides the caller with the option of talking to a counselor, and a language line that can provide service in over 140 languages. 1-800-442-2253

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Michael Venutolo-Mantovani

Michael Venutolo-Mantovani is a writer and musician based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He loves road and track cycling, likes gravel riding, and can often be found trying to avoid crashing his mountain bike.