Former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins wants to keep riding after next year’s Rio Olympics
By William Fotheringham/The Guardian
While a second Hour record appears out of the question for Sir Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner and multiple gold medallist says he may keep racing into 2017 rather than definitively hanging up his wheels at the end of 2016 as he had previously stated.
“I will see how I feel this time next year,” Wiggins said. “There might be other opportunities. They might ask me to present Match of the Day. [But] if I haven’t got a job by [this time] next year I will keep racing.”
One event that seems unlikely now is a further Hour record attempt, building on Wiggins’s 54.526km from June. In his recently published account of his record, My Hour, Wiggins speculates about attempting an “Athlete’s Hour” – in essence an Hour where the rider’s use of aerodynamic aids is severely restricted – but he appears to have put that idea to rest. “Now it’s all about the focus for Rio, so it’s looking like never again. The time to do it would be now but my body shape is changing for the team pursuit and it’s gone further away from what it should be for the Hour.
“I have to accept the Hour was what it was, a record of its time. There is a tinge of disappointment as I wanted to go past 55 kilometres and get past Tony Rominger’s record [of 55.291km] if conditions had been different. The record is beatable and it will be beaten but another 700 metres would have made people think twice.”
Wth a fair wind and building on this winter’s performances Wiggins hopes to end his international career with a medal – he hopes a fifth gold – at next year’s Rio Olympics, where there is the intriguing possibility he may team up with Mark Cavendish in the team pursuit – “Cav” is still keen to do it, he’s committed to it”.
Indeed, the sprinter has rented a flat in Manchester for the next few months to make training at the velodrome more straightforward. After that Wiggins has said he would like to race the Tour of Britain for Team Wiggins, followed by the six-day races on the indoor tracks at London and Ghent.
With its connections back to Tom Simpson, the six at Ghent – where Wiggins was born – has been a de facto extension to hardcore British cycling spectators’ calendar for many years. Wiggins won it in 2003 with the Australian Matthew Gilmore and the Ghent organiser Patrick Sercu has frequently said he would like to have Wiggins on his roster.
“I’d love to do London, and go to Ghent 17 years after I first rode,” said Wiggins. “It’s another of these little historic things I want to go back and revisit one last time. I want to go there and ride with Ilyo Keisse” – a Belgian specialist who has won Ghent six times – “it’s something we’ve been talking about for 10 years. I want to keep racing until the end of the year rather than stop in Rio. I’ve been loving riding this year, it’s been like a breath of fresh air.”
Wiggins said he does not envisage stopping training and competing even if he ends up racing local time trials and the Master’s world track championship alongside amateurs.
“I will keep training – I don’t see why I would stop doing that – and I might slip into the odd race that is easy to do, like a player-manager. I don’t know how that will fit into the team’s plans but what I do know is that the team’s moved forward – we’ve got some good young talent for next year.”
Wiggins cites the Welshman Scott Davies as among his team’s strongest signings, while he reiterates that the team’s best performer this year, Owain Doull, is virtually certain to turn professional in 2017.
As well as his personal pleasure, he is probably aware that if he keeps appearing on the road that will be a greater draw for possible financial backers. Senior riders have combined the player-manager role – notably Wiggins’s former directeur sportif Sean Yates with the Linda McCartney team in 1998 – although it did not work for his fellow Olympian Rob Hayles when he attempted it with the Endura squad in 2010.
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