Bradley Wiggins will head for Majorca this week to begin his winter training, hungrier than ever despite a historic year in which he became the first Briton to win the Tour de France and followed it by claiming Olympic gold.
It is only 12 days since Wiggins was knocked off his bike near his home in Lancashire, suffering rib and hand injuries, but the 32-year-old is fit enough to start preparations for next season with 10 days on the Balearic island, a regular winter training base.
Wiggins is expected to focus on trying to win the Giro d'Italia next year with a defence of his Tour crown all but ruled out, given a route better suited to climbers. Contrastingly a Giro course with a strong time-trial element appears made for him – winning the race considered the second most prestigious of the Grand Tours remains a real ambition, before completing the treble with the Vuelta.
"He is probably more hungry now because the challenge is greater," said Shane Sutton, Britain's head coach and Wiggins' long-time mentor. "The expectation has gone but he wants legendary status and to win the Giro… and do the treble within the next two years.He's in reasonable shape. He's still got to come to terms with everything he has achieved and get back to doing what he does best, and that's riding his bike."
Sutton believes there is no lasting damage from the accident and no great short-term harm to his training. Wiggins has already been put on a strength and conditioning programme, doing cardiovascular work and running. On Friday he got back on his bike for the first time. In Majorca, where he will ride with Kieran Frend, a young Briton he is mentoring, Wiggins will train in intense three-day blocks followed by a day off.
"He's not in bad shape," said Sutton, who believes the amount of work Wiggins put in for the Tour and Olympics leaves him in good condition to get back on track quickly. "We're dealing with a different animal now. We're dealing with someone with a massive amount of reserve."
Dave Brailsford, Team Sky's manager, had both his key rider and Sutton, his head coach, suffer accidents on successive days. He said: "Brad was hit pretty badly and he went right over the car. From what I gather people say, when you go right over a car it's a lot more scary and makes you think about death. I think it's quite traumatic, same for Shane. He might laugh and joke, but it makes you think, for sure. It's quite a deep experience."