"I feel strange," he (Wiggins) said. "I don't know what to feel at the moment. You do something like that and then you sit somewhere like this and that fellow asks a question and straight away it's in a negative sense. So after everything I've done this year, it's like you still have to justify it. 'Oh yes, you've won the Tour, but it is going to be remembered for these people not being here?'
"I don't think all the people who came out from the UK to stand on these climbs in the past two weeks give a monkey's about that. For me, no one's actually praised me yet. No one's said, 'you've been there since the Tour of Algarve in February, winning races – you went to Paris-Nice, you've respected the history of every race you've been to, you've raced and trained and answered all the questions of the press all year."
His voice quavered as his words picked up speed. "You've really taken it on. You came to this Tour as the favourite from Liège and I haven't dropped out of the first two of the GC [general classification] for three weeks now. You've answered all these doping questions as articulately as you can.
"But it's all still in the negative sense. It's 'don't you reckon that it's just because Alberto's not here?' All year it's been, 'have you peaked too early?' And even now, no one's actually said, 'Bloody good on you, mate, well done.'"
When the translator began to render his words into French, Wiggins broke in with a final thought. "I don't think Frank Schleck was in the race when he went positive," he said. "And I don't think Di Gregorio was ever going to do anything on GC."
To his list of achievements this season, Wiggins could have added that he arrived at the Tour having just become the first man in cycling history to win Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandie and the Dauphiné stage races in the same season. His Guardian column last week, in which he articulated his defence against those who insinuate that his remarkable performances justify suspicion, aroused widespread admiration and converted many doubters. The emotional force of Thursday's outburst may have changed a few more minds."