2012 Richard Virenque v Bradley Wiggins
Our favourite cycling Mod, at it again? Surely not. A bit of a strange one this, as the two raced largely in different eras, and yet still managed to have a barney.
Richard Virenque is the larger-than-life French cyclist that, during his pomp in the nineties and early 2000’s, won King of The Mountains a record equalling seven times.
However Virenque is remembered by most as the central figure in a large doping scandal that broke in 1998. Initially denying he had any involvement, despite a number of his then Festina team mates banned, Virenque finally confessed to taking drugs that enhanced his performance.
Despite this, Virenque is still revered in his native France, where he now enjoys life as a TV commentator. But back in 2012, our Brad was having none of it.
In a blog written for a British newspaper, Wiggins wrote about why he would never dope, and suggested the reverence still commanded by Virenque in France would not be replicated back in the UK if he took drugs.
Virenque promptly hit back at Wiggins in the French press, insisting that he’d served his ban and came back to still do well, before turning on the Brit. He suggested that Wiggins lacked charisma, suggested that he should attack more, and bemoaned the fact he didn’t speak French regularly enough to endear him to the French public.
A few weeks later, Wiggins went on to win le Tour, closing Virenque’s gande bouche somewhat.