Cycling: Wiggins uses head to clinch first road medal


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It has been a long time coming, but triple Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins finally tasted success in the World Road Championships yesterday as he clinched silver in the time trial behind Germany's Tony Martin.

Despite multiple World Track Championships victories, until yesterday Wiggins had never achieved even one podium finish in the road Worlds in a decade-long career – and this time last year the chance of him ever doing so appeared to be minimal.

Things only changed after David Millar – seventh yesterday – took silver in the same event in Melbourne last September and Wiggins received an irate long-distance phone call from Great Britain's team principal, Dave Brailsford, telling him in no uncertain terms to get his act together.

The penny dropped with the 31-year-old Londoner to such effect that despite a broken collarbone this July, after securing third in the Tour of Spain two weeks ago, his first Grand Tour podium, Wiggins has now netted his first ever medal in the road Worlds to boot.

En route to Britain's third podium finish in as many days, Wiggins outpowered no less a figure than four-time World champion Fabian Cancellara, who was forced to settle for bronze. "I had no particular expectations, I just went out and went for it," Wiggins said. "I've been steadily improving since my crash in July and the Tour of Spain confirmed that."

It was remarkable how different the trajectories taken by the British and Swiss riders were on the technical, but pancake flat, course. Wiggins slowly rose through the ranks while the usually graceful Cancellara ran himself ragged – to the point where a misjudged right-hand corner saw the defending champion all but slide sideways into a race banner.

Wiggins on the other hand, could not have calculated his effort better, deliberately reining himself in during the first section to be fifth fastest at the first intermediate time check. Clearly remembering the high price he had paid for going too hard, too soon in his previous long time trial, at the Tour of Spain three weeks ago, Wiggins then proceeded to crank up the pace with devastating effect.

Confirming he had raced with his head not his heart, Wiggins said: "We decided we'd ride an average power for the first half and increase it in the second. That's pretty much how it went."

Midway through the course the Briton was only three seconds off a bronze medal and as Cancellara's usual faultless technique disintegrated under the combined pressure of Wiggins' and Martin's dual assault, the Briton roared home five seconds ahead of the Swiss. Only Martin, twice a bronze medallist and a staggering 75 seconds faster than anyone else yesterday, remained out of reach.

After today's rest day, sprinter Lizzie Armitstead will be Britain's next best hope for a podium finish in Saturday's road-race, and then Mark Cavendish has the best chance of his career to take the rainbow jersey of World Road Champion on Sunday. With three medals already in the bag, the omens could not be better.