'Give Bradley Wiggins freedom of Chorley'

Bradley Wiggins celebrates his victory with team mates on Sunday

Bradley Wiggins celebrates his victory with team mates on Sunday

First published in News Chorley Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins could receive the Freedom of the Borough of Chorley after his historic victory on Sunday.

And calls have been made for him to be knighted.

Wiggins, 32, returned to his family home in Eccleston, Chorley, on Sunday to find the village had become the epicentre of world sport after he won the 99th edition of the gruelling 20 stage, 2,173-mile race.

Already David Cameron and Nick Clegg have backed a move for Bradley Wiggins to receive a knighthood.

And in Chorley, there have been calls to bestow the top civic honour on the town’s most famous son.

The superstar, who will compete in the Olympics, returned to the sleepy lanes of his home village less than 24 hours after triumphant scenes on the Champs Elysee where he became the first Briton to win the race.

After spending time on Monday with wife Cath and his two children he even found time for what he described as a ‘20-mile leg loosener’ around the roads near Eccleston, paying homage to the ‘streets which propelled me to victory’.

PM David Cameron led the congratulations, describing his victory as an ‘immense feat of physical and mental ability’.

Chorley Council leader Councillor Alistair Bradley 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.”

Senior councillor Ralph Snape said Wiggins deserves the highest civic honour, the Freedom of the Borough. He said: “Bradley has put a smile on everyone’s face. What an achievement. He and his family have lived here for around ten years and are obviously part of the community. I will be urging the council to give him the civic honour he deserves and make him a freeman.”

Meanwhile, marketing experts say Wiggins could earn £20million in the next two years on the back of his victory with sponsorship deals and appearances.

But for the people of Lancashire, it’s time to come down to earth after the euphoria of the weekend which saw many of them glued to the TV.

But they’ve only just got time to recover as he’s back in Olympic action next Thursday.

CYCLING RUSH PREDICTED

BRIAN Cookson, president of British Cycling, who was at the finish of the Tour de France, said he expected Bradley Wiggins’ success to have a major impact on the popularity of the sport.

Brian, who will be at the Olympics for the duration of the Games with Team GB’s cyclists, said: “We have seen a massive increase in cycling and that has increased exponentially in the last few months.”

He said British Cycling membership was up 30 per cent already this year.

Nationally around two million people ride their bikes regularly for transport or fitness and in the last three months 160,000 more people have started to ride regularly.

Brian said: “I have never seen as many people riding bikes as I do now and I have been riding since the 1960s.

“I think cycling is an activity who’s time has come. It’s great for the environment, it’s inexpensive, you can do it whenever and wherever you like, it’s enjoyable and it’s for all ages.”

Richard Paige, chairman of Clitheroe Bike Club and owner of the Green Jersey bike shop, Clitheroe, agreed there has been an increased interest in the sport. He said: “I think the interest started with the Beijing Olympics four years ago when the cycling team won all those medals. And the group ‘Sky rides’ has helped get people interested.”

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