Tour de France 2014: Sir Bradley Wiggins yet to decide his future despite reports that he will remain with Team Sky
Wiggins is preparing to compete in the Commonwealth Games but his Team Sky contract is up at the end of the year
Just over a week ago, Chris Froome was the man calling every single shot within Team Sky - and he was the overwhelming favourite to defend his Tour de France title.
Fast-forward nine days and the seemingly forgotten face of Bradley Wiggins is once again at the forefront of British cycling headlines.
They say a week is a long time in politics, and the same is true for cycling. As Froome nurses the multiple injuries that have knocked him out of the Tour, so Wiggins is preparing a new stage in his career - but it is not yet known whether it will be at Team Sky.
Reports in Italy suggested that the 2012 Tour de France winner wants to remain with his current team, but The Independent understands that he is yet to make a decision on his future.
A spokesman from the Wiggins camp told The Independent that while positive ongoing talks have taken place, no new deal has been signed, and he could wait until the end of autumn before making a decision.
The response comes after an Italian newspaper published quotes attributed to Wiggins in which it is claimed he said he would like to remain at Team Sky, but recognises that he is no longer a contender for the Grand Tours.
“I’m going to stay at Sky,” the report in Gazzetta dello Sport said.
Wiggins also said that his objectives have shifted from targeting high overall placings in Grand Tours to an attempt on the mythical Hour Record.
"It's true, I'm thinking about it (the Hour Record)," he said. Time-trialing has long been a strength of the multiple-times Olympic pursuit champion.
"My time as a Grand Tour rider is over. I'll still ride them but not to win them. I'll sign up now for this event next year. If Sky doesn't take me to the Tour, I'll be back," he added, revealing a sanguine attitude to the remainder of his career that has remained hidden up until now.
In the short-term, Wiggins will focus on competing for England at the Commonwealth Games in July. His late-season target is the Vuelta, which the injured Froome is also hoping to ride - potentially setting up the latest chapter in what has often been a bitter rivalry between Team Sky’s two best riders.
What is the Hour Record?
It’s one of cycling’s most mythical records, and also perhaps its simplest as a concept. As the name implies, the Hour Record is a measure of how far a cyclist can travel within a time limit of sixty minutes.
The theory may be easy to understand- go hell for leather for 3600 tortuous seconds- but the history of the Hour is anything but.
There are in fact two separate Hour Records. There’s the one set by cycling’s governing body, the UCI which must be carried out on a conventional road bike, and then there’s the Best Human Effort, confusingly titled because with this one, pretty much anything goes as far as technological innovations are concerned.
Eddy Merckx set a record of 49.431km in Mexico City on 25 October 1972 that would stand for twelve years, until Francesco Moser broke it with a distance of 51.151km.
Moser chose the same location of Mexico City as Merckx- the Hour is often attempted at altitude, because the thinner air provides more aerodynamic assistance.
The problem was that the Italian’s record was set using new-fangled disc wheels. In 1996 the UCI put all the records since Merckx’s 1972 attempt into the ‘Best Human Effort’ category.
That meant that the records set during the 1990s by the two Brits, Grame Obree and Chris Boardman were downgraded- because both had pushed the limits of bike design in achieving their distances.
In 2000, however, Boardman broke Merckx’s distance on a regular road bike by just 10m- an almost unbelievably small margin after an hour’s riding.
Just to add to the confusion, in May of this year the UCI announced plans to unify the two categories, ensuring that Boardman and Obree’s distances would be returned to the record books. But the record will remain the 49.700km set by the Czech Ondrej Sosenka in 2005- despite that being far behind Boardman’s best of 56.375km set in Manchester in 1996.
Cycling’s purest achievement is, ironically perhaps its hardest to properly understand. But if Wiggins does indeed attempt it, then he will need to break 48.700km to capture the record. That part at least is simple enough.
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