Sir Bradley Wiggins will limit his appearances in the Commonwealth Games to a single day in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome as he seeks to gauge his ability to overtake his fellow cycling knight’s record haul of Olympic medals.
Wiggins had been expected to compete in the team pursuit on Thursday, the individual pursuit a day later and then the time trial the following week, but instead will focus only on the team pursuit. Wiggins, who like Hoy has seven Olympic medals, aims to compete in one more Olympics and wants to do it in the team pursuit, an event he last rode three years ago.
With an eye on Rio, Wiggins will “put all my eggs in the one basket” and concentrate on the team pursuit here in order to give him an idea if he – and indeed his team-mates – are capable of pushing for gold in 2016. He also described his return to the track after a couple of tough years since winning the Tour de France in 2012 as “refreshing” and offering a relief from the pressures of road racing.
“The initial thing, having been away for so long, was whether I could still do it,” said Wiggins yesterday, talking in a bowling club in the shadow of Celtic Park. “The initial signs were really good. Since then I’ve just been focusing on the team pursuit. The plan was to come in and do pretty much most of the events. With hindsight, I thought, ‘Just focus on the Olympic event rather than try to be too greedy’. So all the training’s been geared up to the team pursuit and trying to break back into that. So I thought I’d put all my eggs into the one I’m going to try and do for the next two years.”
Wiggins last competed in the pursuit at a World Cup event three years ago when Britain were the Olympic and world champions. They won gold in Wiggins’ absence at London 2012 but have struggled since and were a poor eighth in this year’s World Championships.
Wiggins described his return to the track as the “perfect distraction” after being left out of Sky’s Tour de France team. His non-appearance on the road in Glasgow suggests he may return to Sky’s line-up for the Vuelta a España, which begins on 23 August, and ride in support of Chris Froome – Sky have had disaster after disaster in the Giro d’Italia and the Tour and need to salvage their season.
After that Wiggins would concentrate again on the track – his contract with Sky ends this year but he is expected to remain, given their links to British Cycling and willingness to support his Olympic ambitions.
“Having not been selected for the Tour it was like the perfect distraction,” said Wiggins. “I remember finding out I wasn’t doing the Tour, then Monday morning I was hitting the track. It was like going back 15 years, the excitement of getting back on the track for the first time. It was really refreshing actually, just enjoyable.
“They are a good bunch. The road’s so different. It’s not enjoyable on the road, in some ways. There’s so much pressure on you because of who you are within road cycling. Everyone’s watching you all the time.”
Wiggins last competed in the Commonwealths in 2002 before he had won a world title or Olympic gold. “The Commonwealth Games is a fantastic event in its own right,” he said. “Some people put the Commonwealth Games down but you are still representing your country. It’s very rare you get to wear an England kit on the track unless you are an England footballer or cricket player. It’s almost become a bit politically correct, you’re not really allowed to support England now. It’s kind of nice that we can fly that flag and get up and compete for England.”
Life on track: Wiggins’ medal haul
Silver, Team pursuit, Kuala Lumpur 1998
Silver, Individual pursuit, Manchester 2002
Silver, Team pursuit, Manchester 2002
Gold, Individual pursuit, Athens 2004
Gold, Team pursuit, Beijing 2008
Gold, Individual pursuit, Beijing 2008
Silver, Team pursuit 2004, Bronze, Team pursuit
Sydney 2000, Bronze, Madison 2004