Part of the British line-up that was second in the team pursuit, Bradley Wiggins is upbeat about what lies ahead in 2016…
– By Giles Belbin
– Photos: Yuzuru Sunada
It is the biggest rivalry in men’s track cycling and despite losing the latest clash to Australia, Great Britain’s Bradley Wiggins remains confident that he will fly home from Rio with a fifth Olympic gold medal in his luggage.
“I’ll put my house on it, I’ll say we’ll win in Rio now, to be honest,” he told the BBC after the crowds had left the velodrome. “I’m confident. I think we will, I just think we will. We’ve come so far here, me especially, individually, if we all look at our efforts… where I was at Christmas compared to now, we’ve come on leaps and bounds.”
Wiggins recognises it will be close run thing in Rio and is fully aware of the huge threat the Australian squad pose to his bid to secure another Olympic gold. But he clearly believes the British team are on the right track.
“We thought it take a [3 minute] 52 or close to the world record to win here. That’s what we thought and they did that while we didn’t,” Wiggins told the written press. “Hats off to them. Really. They’re missing two strong riders from that team and they can still post a time like that, a world class time.
“At the same time, when you look at where we’ve come from, with Ed [Clancy] especially… we’re close. I could sense it was close with two or three laps to go so we know we’re there with them. We knew we’d have a race on here and we’re going to have a race on in Rio, but I think we’ll get over the line first in Rio.”
Key to the British effort in Rio will of course be Ed Clancy.
Clancy took to the boards in London for the first time for the final having undergone a back operation late in 2015 following a prolapsed disc.
“He’s the strongest man in the team, I said a couple of weeks ago he’s the one man that is probably irreplaceable,” said Wiggins.
“He went from two weeks ago not doing any efforts with us and the medical team saying he can only race if he starts in [the] man four [position] because he can’t put too much pressure on his back, to slowly getting down the line and [then] ended up starting the race for us. All against the medical team’s advice back in Manchester.
“At Christmas Ed was being driven in from his house to the track in the back of a van because he couldn’t even sit in a chair and he was walking up hills for fitness. [It’s] phenomenal really [his comeback].… Rio is what it’s about… though we’d loved to have taken it tonight, don’t get me wrong.”
As for his own form, after 17 years of pursuit riding, Wiggins says he is in the team pursuit form of his life.
“It’s the strongest series of team pursuiting I’ve done.
“I’ve done two and a half lap turns on 14.0s there.
“You know, when we won in Beijing [2008 Olympics] I was just a passenger in that quartet, doing lap turns, dropping pace, and those guys carried us to Olympic gold. So, for me personally, after 17 years of team pursuit, that’s the strongest I’ve been in a team pursuit.
“There’s a little bit left in me yet and there are another four or five months to try and get a little bit better. It shows the commitment, that all of us have made, but also me individually, in terms of coming away from the road going into the gym, working on that power stuff, has worked.”
– By Giles Belbin