Sir Bradley Wiggins has dismissed the marginal gains process at the centre of British Cycling’s success under Sir Dave Brailsford as ‘a load of rubbish’.
Wiggins was also critical of fellow Olympic gold-medallist Victoria Pendleton and sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters, who worked with Brailsford at British Cycling and Team Sky and created the ‘chimp paradox’ model for dealing with pressure.
Former Olympic champion Chris Boardman originally headed up British Cycling’s ‘Secret Squirrel Club’, now known as ‘Room X’ under head of technical development Tony Purnell, to find any slight advantage through modifications to bike technology and riders’ clothing.
Wiggins won eight Olympic medals, including five golds, as well as the Tour de France for Brailsford’s Team Sky but he said at a JLA motivational breakfast event on Friday: ‘A lot of people made a lot of money out of it and David Brailsford used it constantly as his calling card, but I always thought it was a load of rubbish.
‘It’s a bit like the whole chimp thing. At the end of the day, chimp theories and marginal gains and all these buzzwords – a lot of the time, I just think you have got to get the fundamentals right: go ride your bike, put the work in, and you’re either good or you’re not good.
‘Sometimes in life or in sport, whatever, you’re either good at something or you’re not. That’s what makes you a better athlete: your physical ability and whether you’ve trained enough – not whether you’ve slept on a certain pillow or mattress.’
Wiggins was also questioned by host Sarah-Jane Mee on Friday at the event that he was reported to have used a special mattress during his 2012 Tour victory but he was dismissive.
He said: ‘Yeah, but that was just the sprinkles on the top. Underneath it all was this dedication and this sacrifice and something mentally instilled in you from a young age that made you do what you did as a teenager and made you go out in the rain and all that stuff.’
Wiggins then added: ‘In some ways it’s almost a bit disrespectful for these people to come along and say, ‘Yeah, it’s because we made him sleep on this certain pillow, or he drank this certain drink before this race’.
Pendleton, who won sprint gold at Beijing 2008 and the keirin at London 2012, has credited Dr Peters as a major part of her success.
But Wiggins said: ‘Vicky’s a bit of a milkshake anyway. You can overanalyse things but at the end of the day, it’s about your ability and whether you’re a better athlete than the other person or not.
‘Whether you’ve come to grips with this other person living inside you, it’s all a bit… well, each to his own. That may work with some people, but as Roy Keane would say: it’s utter nonsense.’
Wiggins made no mention in the interview of the ongoing investigation into a medical package delivered to him at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.
Meanwhile, 36-year-old Wiggins was also asked whether he would put his mother in a Skoda, in which he has an advertising deal with the car manufacturer.
However, in the Q+A, he was quick to insist that he would never put his mum in one of their cars, saying: ‘Nah, I wouldn’t put her in a Skoda.’