What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
From about 12, I wanted to wear the yellow Tour de France jersey and get an Olympic gold medal.
Private school or state school? University or straight into work?
A comprehensive in Kilburn, north-west London. There was a lot of crime round there, a lot of guns, a lot of stabbings. I was glad to get out, and that was why I focused on cycling. I was selected for the junior world championships and the Commonwealth Games, and I pretty much left school at 16 to pursue my cycling career.
Who was or is still your mentor?
Shane Sutton: a father figure, a coach, a friend.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
Neither. It’s adversity. I think that there’s a difference between being good and being great in sport. Just being good does not get you far these days. Being great has to come from somewhere far deeper, and extreme adversity is a catalyst. Anyone great has upset or trauma in their life, which delivers the drive to be great.
What would you like to own that you do not currently possess?
What’s your biggest extravagance?
In what place are you happiest?
When I’m with my children.
What ambitions do you still have?
I think I’m now the best version I’ve been of myself. I’m happy with myself, happy in my skin. I created a lot of perceptions in the past that weren’t me, that did not show how I am. I’m me now, and my ambition is to keep exploring that.
What drives you on?
Helping others from my own experience. I inspired people when I was cycling and winning races, which I still find hard to believe. I want to continue to use my experiences, to be honest about my faults and mistakes, to continue to help people.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Where do you start? Lack of self-awareness.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
He’d fancy the hell out of me.
Which object that you lost did you wish you still had?
The time-trial bike I won the last Tour de France stage on. It went back to the factory – that’s what happens – and I never saw it again.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
I do not know. I’ve never really thought about it. I do not need to think about it; we will not know until we get there. This life is hard enough.
How physically fit are you?
Very fit for a 40-something normal man with a normal life. Compared to my fitness 10 years ago, it’s worlds apart. Elite sport is brutal, and it’s a very difficult, unhealthy way of living. You have no life outside of it, it’s a religion. How fit I am now is my baseline. I’ve found a good balance. I look 20, that’s a good sign!
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
Based on my children, the way they’ve turned out, I’d probably go nine. I’ve done something right. For myself, that’s not for me to say.
Shoulder to Shoulder: Conversations from the Road with Sir Bradley Wiggins, a cycle ride from Dumfries and Galloway to the Isle of Wight in support of men’s mental health takes place April 25-29 in partnership with Mr Porter Health In Mind and LeBlanq
Follow @FTMag on Twitter to find out about our latest stories first