Bradley Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins Getty Images

Historic Tour win for Wiggins

BRADLEY Wiggins made history today as he became the first British man to win the Tour de France.

The 32-year-old punched his arms in the air and clapped as he crossed the finish line on Paris's Champs-Elysees.

Fellow Brit Mark Cavendish won the final stage of the race into Paris.

Wiggins' feat is expected to make him remembered as one of Britain's greatest ever sportsmen.

The final stage was the 13th consecutive day that he had worn the race leader's yellow jersey in the 99th edition of the gruelling 20 stage, 3,497 kilometre (2,173-mile) race.

He completed the day three minutes and 21 seconds ahead of Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, who becomes the second Briton on the podium in the history of the race.

There were jubilant scenes as British fans who have travelled to Paris celebrated the result.

Wiggins told ITV: "Job done really.

"I don't know what to say really. I've had 24 hours for it to sort of soak in. Today we were just on a mission to finish the job off.

"This sort of thing happens to other people, you never imagine it happens to you.

"It's incredible."

Cavendish, who powered to the front in his rainbow jersey 400 metres from the line, has won on the French capital's most famous boulevard in each of the Tours he has completed - in 2009, 2010, 2011 and now in 2012.

The 27-year-old from the Isle of Man, who also won stages two and 18, now has 23 Tour stage wins, moving above Lance Armstrong and Andre Darrigade into fourth place in the all-time list.

Cavendish told ITV: "It's incredible. It couldn't be more perfect. It couldn't be a better end to an amazing tour."

Wiggins waved to fans as he stepped up on to the podium and the National Anthem was sung by Lesley Garrett, who was wearing a Union flag as a skirt.

After apologising for speaking in English, he told the crowds: "I just wanted to say thank you for all the support all the way around.

"It's been a magical couple of weeks for the team and for British cycling.

"Some dreams can come true, and now my old mother over there, her son's won the Tour de France."

London mayor Boris Johnson said: "Huge congratulations must go to Bradley Wiggins. His incredible determination, focus and will to win blew away the rest of the field and propelled this legendary Londoner to the summit of his sport.

"His inspirational performances, ably supported by his fellow Team Sky riders including Brits Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish, will encourage thousands more people to take to two wheels."

Prime Minister David Cameron said Wiggins' victory was an "immense feat of physical and mental ability".

"I'm like everyone in the country - absolutely delighted," he told Sky News. "Bradley Wiggins has scaled one of the great heights of British sporting achievement, to be the first person in 109 years to win the Tour de France is an immense feat of physical and mental ability and aptitude and I think the whole country wants to say well done, brilliant - the perfect backdrop and start to the Olympics."

The Prime Minister said the win would have a big impact on British morale ahead of the Olympics. "I think it will put the country in the right mood. There is going to be an incredible festival of sport that we are going to see over the next few weeks.

"I think the whole country is excited about it and Bradley and the team's great success in the Tour de France, I watched Mark Cavendish's great sprint finish as well, I think that whole team performance will lift the spirits of the country before the Olympics, which is the backdrop for what's going to be a moment when Britain really can put its best foot forward and invite the whole world to see what a great country this is."

Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted: "Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins. Extraordinary achievement."

Wiggins lives in the Lancashire village of Eccleston, near Chorley, with his wife Cath and children Ben and Isabella.

The Londoner had decided to move to the North West to be closer to Manchester's Velodrome where British Cycling is based.

Paying tribute to his success, Councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: "We are absolutely delighted that Bradley has won the Tour de France. It really is a fantastic, world class achievement by an amazing and dedicated athlete.

"We also wish him continued success in the forthcoming Olympics which follow almost immediately.

"Any celebration is obviously up to Bradley but we will speak to him on his return and see if we can organise an event, probably in early autumn, involving local children and with him as the guest of honour to mark what is a momentous occasion."

Wiggins, a Mod with distinctive sideburns, enjoys today's victory after finishing fourth in the Tour in 2009 when he equalled Robert Millar's 1984 British best, and crashing out with a broken collarbone when among the favourites in last year's race.

But the sportsman, who began riding at Herne Hill Velodrome, venue of the 1948 Olympics, is already the bearer of six Olympic medals, three of them gold.

He first won gold in individual pursuit at the Athens Games in 2004, and defended his title by winning gold in the same discipline along with in team pursuit in Beijing in 2008.

Today's result has led bookmakers Coral to offer odds of 4/7 on Wiggins being named BBC Sports Personality of the Year while they are offering odds of 2/1 that he is given a knighthood before the end of next year.

Mr Johnson also confirmed that London will bid to host the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in 2016.

He said: "I want our great capital city to play its own part in the cycling revolution that is taking place by hosting the track cycling world championships in 2016.

"This is the best sports city in the world and the wonderful velodrome we have built in east London would be packed to the rafters for such an event."