There will be a familiar surname starting the junior men’s time trial at the UCI Cycling World Championships on Saturday, but step by step Ben Wiggins is building his own reputation separate to his famous father.
The 18-year-old, son of 2012 Tour de France winner and former Olympic champion Sir Bradley, feels his surname could work both ways as he begins to carve out his own career in cycling.
The Wiggins brand comes with instant gravitas, but also a level of expectation.
“I think it’s more difficult to manage when it’s not going so well,” the younger Wiggins said.
“Say you’ve had a few bad races or whatever, I don’t know if it’s just in my own head, but you start to think about what people are thinking or saying.
“People are always going to compare me to him but actually if you look at my junior results compared to when he was a junior I’m actually a lot better than he was.”
Last summer Wiggins won a European title on the track with victory in the junior men’s points race in Portugal, winning team pursuit bronze at the same championships, and there has been success on the road too, most recently with the general classification win at the Trophee Centre Morbihan in France.
“It was difficult at the start of last season as in my first year I hadn’t really done anything,” Wiggins said. “But now I’ve won a European title and a Nations Cup race on the road so it’s all right when you’re doing it yourself, you can make your own name.”
Wiggins had a difficult time of it in Saturday’s junior men’s road race on the streets of Glasgow, held up behind an early crash and, admitting that he was not feeling at his best, he was unable to bridge the gap back to the front group with the pace on from the very start.
Sir Bradley was in Glasgow to watch, but Ben said he did not ask his dad for much in the way of advice.
“There’s not much advice he can really give you,” he said. “If you think about it, it’s 25 years since he rode a junior race himself and the sport has changed so much. It’s more just the presence there than any advice.”
He is hoping for more luck in Friday’s time trial up in Stirling before turning his attention to the junior track world championships that take place in Colombia starting on August 23.
Wiggins rides on the road for the Fensham Howes-MAS Design team, which is run by Giles Pidcock, father of Ineos Grenadiers star Tom, to give emerging British juniors the opportunity to race in Europe.
But he continues to split his time evenly with the track and wants to continue to do so.
“It’s both, certainly in the short term, for the next few years,” Wiggins said. “I’d like to go to the LA Olympics, and I imagine as with most riders eventually I’ll focus on the road, but I’ll try to do both for the next few years.”