Sir Bradley Wiggins finally captured the one major title missing from his wide-ranging honours board when he won gold in the men’s time trial at what will be his last World Championships.
The 2012 Tour de France winner had already taken two silver medals in the same event, in 2011 and 2013, behind long-standing arch-rival Tony Martin. But he flew back to Britain from northern Spain with Martin defeated and the gold medal and the rainbow jersey of time-trial champion – the country’s first since Chris Boardman 20 years ago – snugly in his suitcase.
“I’ve got the national [time-trial] title, the Olympic title and now the world’s title,” Wiggins said. “I’ve got the set now, it’s fantastic.
“I always said after London [where in 2012 he secured Olympic gold after winning the Tour] anything I got was a bonus, and it’s nice to end the season like this after missing [this year’s] Tour. I trained specifically for this since the Commonwealth Games in July so it’s good.”
Wiggins said he had no regrets about his absence from this year’s Tour, given that it allowed him to focus more on the world title. A victory in the Tour of Britain’s short final time trial two weeks ago was another boost to his morale, and his low total of race days – just 36 this year, when most riders would be up to more than twice that at this point in the season – “gave me a lot of freshness for today”.
The omens had already looked good on Sunday when Wiggins was one of the two strongest riders for Sky in the team time-trial. Then, after he roared down the start ramp, his pencil-thin figure arcing perfectly through each corner and his legs turning the pedals with relentless fluidity, it was soon clear that Wiggins was on a roll.
Four seconds down on Martin at the first checkpoint, Wiggins said he aimed to regain ground in the second, more rolling part of the course where the German would be at a disadvantage – and the tactic paid off perfectly.
“I was feeling quite relaxed this morning, I knew the condition and form were there, so it was just a case of waiting all day,” he said. “The weather was good, too, and that was important.”
Ever one to forge his own path, Wiggins revealed he had ordered the team not to radio him the time splits until the last five kilometres of the 47km (29-mile) course, “because I wanted to pace my own ride and not change tactics.
“When I heard I only had ten seconds on Tony [at the third checkpoint] I shit myself, but it was a case of not overly taking risks on the final descent then really going for it at the finale, and it worked out.”
Wiggins crossed the line 26 seconds ahead of Martin, with the Netherlands’ Tom Dumoulin – at 23, tipped for future time-trial greatness by Wiggins – taking bronze.
The Briton was so exhausted he lay on the ground for several minutes, but the huge grin and repeated thumbs up during the winner’s ceremony confirmed just how important this victory had been to the 34-year-old.
Although this was his last race of the season – in which he has also won the Tour of California – Wiggins is already looking at next year and 2016 as he slowly brings the curtain down on his career. He has confirmed he will aim for the hour record in June as he increasingly focuses on track racing and a final Olympic Games in the team pursuit in 2016 at Rio.
“Rather than go for the hour, say 10 days from now, I want to really invest in that one attempt and get the most out of it. Plus,” he joked, “it gives me something to do next year.
“Then if I finish it off with another medal in the team pursuit [in Rio], it would be a nice way to end it all.” But as a way of bowing out of the World Championships, Wiggins time-trial gold cannot be matched.Reuse content