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Bradley Wiggins: Eccleston celebrates Tour win

By Lynette Horsburgh
BBC News, Eccleston

image captionVillagers in Eccleston packed out Bradley Wiggins's local pub to watch him ride to victory

"I'll treat him to a beer next time he comes in," said Barry Newton, landlord of cyclist Bradley Wiggins's local pub in the Lancashire village of Eccleston.

On Sunday morning, as 32-year-old Wiggins was preparing to ride his way into the sporting record books by becoming the first Briton to win the Tour de France, almost the entire village started toasting his win early.

There was a carnival atmosphere as the Original Farmers Arms pub put the finishing touches to a celebration party in his honour.

As the sun beamed down, the party appeared to be already in full swing, with people dressed in cycling gear and waving union jacks.

Coincidently, the cycling leg of the Ironman UK competition was also going through the village, with people lining the streets to cheer on competitors.

Mr Newton said it was a "double whammy" celebration as cycling enthusiasts gathered for the competition and to support their local hero.

image captionArtist Barry Woods painted a mural in support of Bradley Wiggins

In another pub down the road, The Windmill, a regular had turned the outside wall into a mural in honour of the village's most famous resident.

Artist and villager Barry Woods painted the mural, which depicts Wiggins on his bike in the Tour de France.

'True ambassador'

Della Ross, landlady of the pub, said: "We got an anonymous note through the pub door a couple of weeks ago asking us to do it.

"We still don't know whose idea it was and who posted the note."

Mr Woods said: "I hope he [Wiggins] likes it. I can't believe the attention that it's got.

"I've got so much admiration for what he's achieved and proud to have done a welcome home present.

"Just wish I knew who suggested this."

Former amateur cyclist Julian Hules said: "I have followed every minute of his progress and this is the biggest thing that has ever happened to Eccleston."

Sporting a GB Olympic T-shirt and clutching a union jack, he said the whole of Eccleston was thrilled at his achievement.

"Not just for the village, but for Great Britain," he added.

"He has been superb. Not only has he won Olympic gold medals and the Tour de France but he has done it clean, he is a gentleman and true ambassador.

"When I last saw him, I told him about watching him fall off his bike and break his collarbone in last year's Tour de France from my hospital bed in intensive care after an operation for bowel cancer.

image captionSupporters gathered at the pub on Sunday morning to party in Wiggins's honour

"I told him he looked worse than me and he laughed about it."

'Polite and unassuming'

Young and old had turned out to party and as Wiggins neared the finish line, the noise inside the pub got louder as villagers chanted "Wiggo, Wiggo, Wiggo".

Simon Thomson, whose six-month-old daughter Elsa was wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "Team Wiggins Tour de France Coming Home to Eccleston", said: "It's amazing what Bradley Wiggins has done in the ultimate endurance test.

"It's a major boost to UK cycling and it makes me want to get my mountain bike out."

Nick Braithwaite, who works in a cycling shop in Leyland where Wiggins is a regular, said he had cycled five miles to Eccleston to join in the celebrations.

He said he was "emotional" when he crossed the line and sealed victory.

Sam Harrison, 11, said: "It was fantastic. He was under a lot of pressure as well because everyone expected him to win."

The restaurant manager at Original Farmers Arms, Lisa Griffin, said Wiggins and his wife came into the pub for meals. She described him as "so polite and unassuming".

"His wife came in a couple of days ago when she heard we were going to hold a party in his honour today and she offered to pay for it, which is a lovely gesture," she said.

"She said she would call in when they get back to thank everybody for their support."

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