The picture that Bradley Wiggins paints of himself seems pretty plausible sat alongside his public utterances, and the book’s good reception overall suggests that those who know at least someone involved in the story aren’t all going round rubbishing it.
That makes the one place where the book really departs from previous public statements all the more interesting: the comments about Chris Froome. Mostly they are gently critical, on the lines of, ‘he’s really talented but he’s inexperienced and inconsistent’. The really critical stuff comes with the account of a controversial stage in the Tour de France where the Sky team’s plans seemed to break down with Froome and Wiggins not cycling together as a team. Wiggins’s account starts off as it he is going to be generous, with many references to confusion and communications problems. But by the end he’s being very critical, saying he had no idea of what Froome was up to and he didn’t like it – and departing from what he said in public at the time.
The contrast with his accounts of Mark Cavendish are striking. Wiggins and Cavendish have had their fair share of public ups and downs, and the book reflects that. But is also leaves the reader with a generous picture of Cavendish, placing responsibility for their periods of falling out on them both, and giving us an affectionate account of their joint history.
Overall the book is pretty much about 2012, with earlier events either in cycling or in Wiggins’s life only covered is an as much as they are the lead up to his year of miraculous cycling.
It is far from being just a book about the racing on the road. There is a lot about family life and personal stresses outside the races, with the huge pressures that constant training generate. There is not much in the way of cycling jargon, so the non-sporting fan interested in this suddenly high-profile sport in the UK should be able to enjoy the book and learn about the sport.
A fewer reviewers have said they do not like the style. I found the rather workmanlike writing style great; it seems to reflect the way in which Wiggins speaks. He doesn’t go for huge verbal flourishes in TV interviews and the book matches that. I think it’s the better for that. A shame about some of the repetition and the slightly meandering narrative at times (rushed editing to get the book out quickly perhaps?). Small blemishes, however, that do not take much off the overall book.