I'll be fresh for London, roars Wiggins as Tour hero eyes Olympic gold
21:30 GMT, 23 July 2012
There was precious little time to dwell on the enormity of his achievement for Bradley Wiggins on Monday. Not with a fourth Olympic gold medal to chase eight days from now in the Olympic road time trial.
What is termed in cycling as the race of truth was the foundation stone of Wiggins’ Tour de France triumph. It is so called because there can be no hiding in the peloton, sheltered against the wind by teammates or towed up mountain passes by pacemakers. It is simply man against the clock, each riding alone, with whoever comes home in the fastest time declared as the winner.
Wiggins has excelled in the discipline since he began cycling although his three previous Olympic golds were won in a velodrome over just 2.5 miles which took under four minutes to complete for the team time trial, just over for the individual event in which he was victorious in Athens and Beijing.
No rest for the wicked: Wiggins was back on his bike on Monday in the UK
Until this year, road time trials have been another matter. Next Wednesday afternoon, starting and finishing at Hampton Court Palace, the Olympic course is over 27.5 miles, a distance at which Wiggins has been competitive in recent years but not dominant as he was on the track.
Simply put, Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin – between them world champions in five of the past six years in the discipline – have been faster.
That all changed last winter with another example of meticulous planning by Team Sky Performance Analyst Tim Kerrison and of Wiggins’ determination to become Britain’s first-ever Tour de France winner.
Through the mysterious workings of cadence, torque and rolling resistance, Wiggins found another gear – literally.
Wiggins said: ‘A year ago when I was
beaten by Tony (Martin) at the world championships by quite a way, I
thought I was probably just going to get a medal at the Olympics, but 12
months on I’ve closed the gap now if not surpassed it. It’s going to be
another tough race, but a very realistic chance of gold.
Happy to chat: Wiggins poses for a picture with a fellow cyclist
‘Tim said: “I think we can close the gap.” We started training and we were doing a lot of different, non-traditional stuff. It was much more like the track stuff and we started physically working the machine to get to the point in July when we could ride like this in the Tour. That’s made the difference, ultimately, between now and the Brad Wiggins of 2010 who tried to do it himself.’
Before the challenge of the time trial, Wiggins has pledged to ride all out for Mark Cavendish in Saturday’s Olympic road race around Surrey. Just as the yellow jersey wearer led out Cavendish for Sunday’s final Tour stage victory on the Champs-Elysees, he is committed to ensuring another sprint finish to capitalise on Cavendish’s standing as the fastest man in the world of road cycling rather than conserve energy for the time trial four days later.
Wiggins added: ‘I’ve just done a world
class time trial on Saturday, averaging a ridiculous amount of power
after three weeks of bike racing and two really tough Pyrenees stages
and physically not a lot’s going to change in the next week. If
anything, I’m going to be fresher.
Brit special: Wiggins celebrates his win in the Tour de France on Sunday
'And once you start thinking in those terms, that you’re so fit and you’ve trained for the demands of three weeks and you’ve actually got three days off in between the road race and the time trial, it shouldn’t be a problem.’
One tiny cloud drifted on to Wiggins’ horizon from France with the news that next year’s Tour de France route will be aimed more at his weaknesses than his strengths. The Tour organisers are already devising a route for the 100th running of the race which is more mountainous than the one Wiggins conquered over the past three weeks.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme said: ‘The one thing I can tell you is that the 2013 Tour will favour the climbers a lot more than this year’s route did. Whatever we decide, there will be more stages with summit finishes.’
With only one individual time trial, as opposed to this year’s two, likely to be planned, Wiggins’ may struggle to hold on to any advantage gained when the race reaches the Alps and the Pyrenees. Team Sky could therefore elect to favour Chris Froome, a more natural climber, as its team leader with Wiggins supporting him.