'I wish I could do it all again' - Wiggins and Deignan's London 2012 road race reflections

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Lizzie Deignan

Image credit: Getty Images

25/05/2020 at 06:25 | Updated 25/05/2020 at 07:42

Road race silver medallist Lizzie Deignan and Bradley Wiggins reminisce about the event at the 2012 London Olympics...

  • Watch Return to London 2012 on Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Player from May 24-31

Wiggins and Deignan join Orla Chennaoui for a very special look back at Team GB's success on the road, including that famous time trial win for Wiggins, in Return to London 2012 at 2pm on Monday.


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At 4pm, Chris Hoy and Jo Rowsell are the guests as we revisit success in the velodrome too.

Bradley, what did you think of Team GB’s chances in the men’s road race?

Team GB's men's road race team at London 2012

Image credit: Getty Images

Wiggins: "There was so much uncertainty coming out of the Tour de France, because you could never plan how you were going to finish the Tour, you might crash in the last few days or you might be really tired.

"It was a case of not looking to far ahead, getting the Tour done and then coming here and then trying to focus on Cav [Mark Cavendish] in the road race. Chris Froome and I didn’t want to be talking too much about the time-trial to deter or take away how hard we were going to work for Cav.

"It was important we didn’t really speak about the TT because we were 100% committed to Mark for the road race with no thoughts towards the TT. In the past, maybe some riders have thought they’re only here for the TT and that’s one rider less for Cav, so it was important to be all hands on deck for the road race.

"I think, the day of the road race, I rode on the front for 235km and averaged like 320 watts all day, which is quite a lot. I was exhausted at the end because I gave everything and gave no real thought to the TT and it was only after that, I just had to rest up for three days.

#Returnto2012 - Highlights as Wiggins takes time trial gold in London


"Most people that rode the road race and the TT, like Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara climbed off in the road race to prepare for the TT.

"I couldn’t think of the TT during the road race, because if you started for one minute to think about what your competitors were doing, you’d take your eye off the ball for Mark.

"I think he really appreciated that, that we gave it our all and that was our priority.

"So it was weird going to an Olympic Games, and your event which you normally spend days and weeks before getting nervous about your form, and you’re not doing that, it’s a case of riding the road race for Mark, then turning up to your event and seeing what happens."

Lizzie, what were your expectations heading in to your first games?

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Deignan: Definitely not as big as a medal! I definitely surprised myself with that and I think that to me, was down to the home crowd, I think I outperformed myself massively. I would have been delighted, going in to the Games, with a top-10 result so coming out of it with a silver medal was beyond expectation.

What was the start of the road race like for you?

Wiggins: "We got up at 6am to have breakfast at a Travel Inn in Hyde Park Corner and then driving 10 minutes to the Olympic road race start, just miles away from where I grew up as a kid, around Marble Arch, I got mugged round there once.

"Driving to the start, I think we started just behind Haymarket and then rode up to the Mall. Standing on the Mall to start the race, Prince Charles was there, my mum walked from her flat in Pimlico, it was bizarre really.

"It’s only now that I look back and think about that. You normally do Olympics in other peoples countries, but to do it on my own doorstep, two miles from where I grew up, I don’t think I ever really considered the impact of that at the time."

Wiggins: Having the Olympics where I grew up was bizarre but so special


Talk us through the actual road race then Bradley, what was it like?

Wiggins: "I think we were probably a little bit arrogant in some ways because of what had happened the year before in Copenhagen the year before where we rode from the start. We had nine riders in Copenhagen, we only had five at the Olympics and one of them was Cav, so we only had four riders to try and control the race which was going to be so difficult because everyone knew that Mark really wanted to win it.

"We probably took it up a bit too early, we were hoping that Bernie Eisel would come and help from Austria! Other riders had been promised as well that we didn’t see all day!

"We actually did a pretty good job marshalling it all, just that group slipped away on the last two laps of the Box Hill circuit and we couldn’t close it because at that stage, it was just me and David Millar riding.

"It felt like it was more important for someone else to win for the rest of the peloton than Mark. It did feel like the Australians never helped at any point in the race, and they could have won it. The irony is, the Aussies and us ended up playing off against each other the whole race and they were sort of saying we’re not riding, you should ride, and they had Matt Goss.

"Cav actually punctured with 5km to go, he had a slow puncture which nobody knows about, so he had a front slow puncture so he didn’t sprint for the minor placings, but Matt Goss won the sprint for the minor placings.

So if it had all been together and the Australians were to have rode, Matt Goss probably would have been the Olympic champion. It felt like the whole race was against us, anybody could win apart from Cav on home soil, it was a bizarre race, but it is what it is.

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How did you feel heading in to the race on Sunday, Lizzie?

Deignan: "The pressure, I don’t think I realised it, being young and inexperienced probably worked to my advantage, I was just in a nice gold resort in the south of London, just enjoying myself!

"We had the defending champion in Nicole Cook, she was a fierce competitor and she was talking herself up to win the race so I was just honestly focusing on myself and not really thinking about everything going on around me, I don’t think I understood how big it was before the race.

I was in absolute shock when we did the race itself, I have never been in a race like it since, there were crowds every meter of the whole course, and they weren’t just one deep, there were people everywhere. It was a pretty phenomenal experience as a whole, to be honest.

What stage did you realise that you were in with a shout for a medal?

Deignan: "I think when the gap got out to a minute and it just wasn’t coming down, and then the rain started and as soon as the rain starts and you’re riding around London streets that are slippy and wet, you know as a three you’re going to go through them so much quicker than a disorganised peloton trailing behind, so I think the rain played a massive part in that."

The atmosphere at the finish was incredible to see, what was it like for you?

Lizzie Armitstead

Image credit: Reuters

Deignan: "It was just the most amazing moment of my career, nothing has matched it since, not even becoming world champion.

It was just a phenomenal experience as a British rider, with British crowds and with British weather, it was spectacular, and I wish I could do it all again.


#Returnto2012 - Looking back on an iconic opening ceremony


📺 Eurosport 2

📱💻🖥 Eurosport Player

Monday 25th May (2pm and 4pm) will focus on cycling with Sir Bradley Wiggins and Lizzie Deignan discussing road cycling before six-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy and Jo Rowsell review the unprecedented Team GB successes in the velodrome.

Tuesday 26th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will see Tom Daley join the team to review his medal-winning performance in diving whilst Adam Peaty – ear-marked as a future prospect back in 2012 - and double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington will reflect on the big stories of the Games from the pool.

Wednesday 27th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will feature gymnasts Max Whitlock, Beth Tweddle and Kristian Thomas looking back on a Games that saw Team GB secure four medals for the first time in a single Olympics and kick-start a golden era for the sport in the UK.

Thursday 28th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will see rower Helen Glover, winner of the first Team GB gold of the Games, as well as five-time Olympic medallist Kath Grainger and Men’s Eight medallist Greg Searle, discussing the memorable moments from Eton Dorney.

Friday 29th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) focuses on combat sports with boxing star Anthony Agogo discussing his and Team GB’s impressive performances in the ring, whilst medal-winning pair Jade Jones and Gemma Gibbons reflect on their taekwondo and judo successes respectively.

Saturday 30th May (2pm, replayed at 7pm) will give viewers the chance to relive the iconic night of the games – known ever since as Super Saturday. On a memorable night at the Olympic Stadium, Team GB secured three gold medals with Greg Rutherford, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and Sir Mo Farah all topping the podium. Greg and Mo will look back on the historic evening and discuss some of the other seminal moments. Seb Coe and Tony Minichiello also join the chat.

Sunday 31st May (midnight) will see the week come to a close with Boyle’s equally impressive Closing Ceremony to book-end a celebratory period in the country’s sporting history.


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