HIS historic Tour de France victory may have garnered Bradley Wiggins considerable column inches, but his trademark bushy sideburns have gained almost as much attention.
As I strode down the Champs-Elysees in Paris a week ago on Sunday the boulevard was awash not only with British flags and Team Sky tops, but men – and even a few women – sporting comedy prosthetic facial hair in homage to the cyclist.
But sideburns, like moustaches and chest hair, historically tend to polarise. On some they can look more seedy 1970s porn star than swashbuckling period drama hero.
Wiggins, however, is being credited with luring closet mutton-chop fans out of the closet. In recent days he has topped a poll of the sexiest sideburn heart throbs of all time.
I've always been partial to sideburns myself – although with a strict caveat. In short: Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice = good; Liam Gallagher from Oasis = bad. It's a simple formula. There is something whimsical yet gloriously alpha male about sideburns (although not on Slade's Noddy Holder; and never on racing pundit John McCririck). They are the perfect antithesis to the over plucked and preened metrosexual male (Shane Warne, anyone? Thought not ...). You know that a man with a good sideburn isn't going to be elbowing you aside at the bathroom mirror or pouting because he's out of his £45 a pot eye cream.
As for Wiggins, you've got to admire a man who shaves his legs, but who can rock facial hair with the kind of masterful aplomb previously only achieved by John Lennon, Elvis and George Best.
Wiggins and his sideburns will be in action in the Olympic time trial tomorrow, sticking two fingers up to the laws of aerodynamics. Hopefully they'll be standing atop the podium afterwards. If not, indoctrination into the Facial Hair Hall of Fame is surely not a bad consolation?
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