Rio 2016: Bradley Wiggins races into the history books as Britain takes gold in the men's team pursuit

Sir Bradley Wiggins becomes the most successful British Olympian of all time

Kevin Garside
Rio de Janeiro
Friday 12 August 2016 22:47 BST
Britain take gold at Rio
Britain take gold at Rio (Getty)

Another unforgettable night for British cycling under an Olympic roof. Two golds, world records, and a man alone, Sir Bradley Wiggins, the most successful British Olympian of all time.

Wiggins as part of the British team pursuit team, alongside Edward Clancy, Steven Burke and Owain Doull that smashed the world record in the heats and put away Australia in the final by lowering it again to 3:50.570. Unforgettable is right.

That made it gold no. 5 for Wiggins and eight in all taking him one ahead of that other knight of the track Sir Chris Hoy, who must content himself with retention of the record for golds, which stands at six.

Wiggins is good but at 36 we have to accept that whatever the future holds it will not embrace competitive cycling four years hence in Tokyo. The night was a triumph for all involved, but Sir Wiggo was naturally centre stage.

The velodrome was again festooned with British tokens, the flag of the union easily outnumbering rival standards to make this once more a very British affair.

The adulation he could do without but it’s too late for that now. Wiggins never set out to be the sideburns of cycling. The simple pleasure of turning the pedals was always enough. And now here is, the greatest Olympian in British history.

Wiggins fits comfortably into the anti-hero niche. The spotlight is an irritant to him yet a talent so profound has to find an accommodation with the mainstream whether he likes it or not. Fame is the price he pays for the eight stones pouched, the first of which came 12 years ago in the individual pursuit at Athens.

The evening session started well with Callum Skinner setting a new Olympic record of 9.703 in qualifying for the men’s sprint, one lap of the track flat out. His standing as fastest man in Rio lasted barely ten minutes with Olympic Champion Jason Kenny lowering the mark to 9.551.

The one negative point for the British squad was the absence of Mark Cavendish from the arena. Cavendish, whose relationship with Wiggins is said to be increasingly estranged, was officially the reserve member of the pursuit team and as such would have been expected to attend.

In the women’s team sprint final China edged out Russia for gold and Germany claimed bronze at the expense of Australia.

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