Sir Bradley Wiggins excited about world record bid in London

Published: Tuesday 1st March 2016 by The News Editor

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Eight years after zooming to a hat-trick of gold medals in his last Track World Championships appearance in Manchester, Sir Bradley Wiggins has world records rather than retirement on his mind as he prepares for his high-profile return at the London Velodrome.

The 35-year-old admits a combination of advancing years and the continued evolution of his sport has made training more unforgiving, and acknowledges that his reputation alone will not necessarily be enough for a final shot at Olympic gold in Rio this summer.

A team pursuit world record in front of his home fans would be a good place to start, the tantalising three minutes and 50 seconds barrier potentially within reach this week according to Wiggins, though dependent on so many external factors that it may be more likely to be breached in the heat and humidity of South America.

Wiggins said: “We’re all quite excited that we could break the world record next week, if the conditions are right. It will either be next week or in Rio because there is no other opportunity really.

“But as I learned with the hour record, you can’t compare anything you do (in Manchester). You go to London and you just don’t know what the conditions are going to be like on the day.”

Such late-career targets are typical of Wiggins, and help explain why he is continuing to push thoughts of impending retirement to the back of his mind and continue to more than hold his own against a new generation of ambitious young riders.

“There’s a lot of guys riding on the track now and I rode with their dads,” Wiggins said. “I notice it more. When you start racing people’s sons, you know you are getting old.

“(But) I don’t think about the end because I haven’t made the end – I haven’t made the team for the end. So day in, day out you just try to hit the numbers they put on the board.

“There are six of us going for four spots. You just try to make sure you do everything they ask of you. It’s not a given – I won’t be selected just because I’ve got my tour win and all that.

“You get shown the numbers and if you’re not up to scratch you go home. Reputations and results have got nothing to do with it. It’s brutal really – quite cut-throat.”

The win-at-all costs mentality that has brought so much success to British Cycling means there is no space for reputations. Technical director Shane Sutton has already stressed Mark Cavendish must finish around the medals in the omnium to have hope of going to Rio.

Wiggins would not have it any other way. He is clearly revelling in the challenge of returning to the track after inevitably become known more for his Tour de France heroics, and last year’s glorious romp to the world one-hour record.

“For me it’s different – I’ve been able to change. Going on the road for those years and then coming back to the track means I have kept it fresh – a change of goals.

“I spent five years trying to win the Tour, losing weight and being miserable, not being able to eat. All those pressures that come with being a grand tour rider. So being able to give that up and walk in here every day, it’s like going back 18 years.”

Reuniting with Cavendish, with whom he will ride in the Madison, has inevitably generated headlines and raised memories of the pair’s infamous failure to win a medal in the event in Beijing in 2008, leading to a brief degree of acrimony between the pair.

“It’s a natural partnership for us both,” said Wiggins, sitting alongside his team-mate in Manchester last week. “We’ve both been successful in the past together. It (the Madison) is not an Olympic event any more, so there is nothing riding on it other than you get to be world champion for a year.”

For Wiggins these days, it is not the lure of the Madison that keeps the wheels turning. Even at this late stage of his career, he has the hunger to succeed on a much grander scale. A world record in London would be only the start of what will surely be a glorious and fitting end.

Published: Tuesday 1st March 2016 by The News Editor

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