By Ben Atkins, United Kingdom Editor
At the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, England on Friday morning, World and Olympic Pursuit Champion Bradley Wiggins spoke to the British media two days after he was forced to leave the Tour de France after his Cofidis teammate, Cristian Moreni, tested non-negative for testosterone.
"I wouldn't say I'm bitter," He replied when asked. "I'm angered by it and it's made my determination to come through this whole thing and to prove that there can be clean winners in this sport."
He's not alone in his anger either, but sees the push towards a cleaner sport being spearheaded by the younger generation of riders who haven't grown up in the old school doping culture. "A lot of others I've spoken to in the last 24 hours - I've spoken to Geraint Thomas who's still out there on the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish - and they're all pretty pissed off as well. I still believe that there is a minority out there who are willing to push the boundaries - that minority all seem to be over 30 years of age - coming toward the end of their careers - I think that show's a generational thing.
"Ten years ago it was rife in the sport and there's a new generation coming through now and unfortunately it's the older guys who were there back in 1998 that are still willing to push the boundaries and see how far they can go without being caught," he continued. "Hopefully the new generation that are coming through - the guys you saw protesting on the line are the guys that are going to be the future of the sport and the Tour de France."
Wiggins spoke out against the hero worship of some of the big stars, those who - like Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) - now have their entire careers looked upon with suspicion. "These guys are looked upon as heroes to some young guys - but for me they're not the heroes of the Tour de France - they never were for me," he declared.
Instead, he hailed the contribution to the sport made by the lesser lights, the domestiques and those struggling in the autobus [the group of riders banding together to avoid the time cut] everyday, particularly the youngest rider on the race - his British Cycling track teammate Thomas. "I spent a lot of time in the group finishing an hour down most days and that's where the heroes are for me," he said. "Guys like Geraint Thomas, 21 years old - for the last two weeks I've watched him drag himself through the Alps and the Pyrenees on nothing but bread and water. For me they are the real heroes of the Tour de France - not the guys on the million Euro contracts who are being done for blood transfusions and things like that."
To read the full interview with Bradley Wiggins, click here.