Sir Bradley Wiggins has confirmed the Rio Olympics will almost certainly be his final event in top-level cycling, while predicting the British team could win fewer than half the number of velodrome gold medals secured at the London Games four years ago.
Wiggins has previously talked about retiring at the end of 2016 but also raised the prospect that he could race on. However, he told the Guardian that his success last week at the world track championships in London, at which he and Mark Cavendish took gold in the Madison, seemed impossible to top.
“I don’t think so,” Wiggins said when asked if there might be any more top-level racing after Rio. “If I was to leave the worlds where they were, bowing out of international competition as world champion in London, I couldn’t leave it on a better place.”
This did not, Wiggins added, mean he would no longer be seen on a bike, saying he would “love” to continue racing with his eponymous team at a UK level. Asked if he could see himself taking part in local time trials into his 40s and beyond, he replied: “I can’t see why not.”
Wiggins was not part of the track squad at London 2012, instead taking gold in the road time trial, fresh from his Tour de France triumph. His was one of eight British cycling golds in London, with the other seven coming in the velodrome.
With British track dominance having slipped somewhat since then, Wiggins said he predicted a lower total for Rio. “I think we’ll win three to four gold medals on the track, which is quite a little bit less than it was in London,” he said.
“But it would be something to top London – everything was building towards London, in every sport, it felt, right from when Lottery funding started in 1997. It reached a crescendo and I think it will dip a bit. We’ll still be successful but I don’t think we’ll repeat London. Maybe in time.”
Wiggins, speaking at the launch of his new range of children’s bikes with Halfords, hailed the support of the home crowd at the world championships: “It’s become the norm now in the UK, for any racing like that. That noise, I experienced it at the hour record, the London time trial at the Olympic Games.
“And to send all those people home happy, and do it with someone like Mark Cavendish, one of the biggest names in male cycling in this country, it just couldn’t have been better. You couldn’t have written a better script.”
Once the duo gained a lap on their rivals in the Madison the title seemed assured, despite a crash for Cavendish. But Wiggins said he remained too wary to celebrate early.
“What happens a lot is that I get into a sense of disbelief. You kind of start thinking: ‘What if I’m not right? What if the scoreboard’s not right? What if they’ve not updated it?’ You want it confirmed 100% before you allow yourself to celebrate.”
This article was written by Peter Walker, for theguardian.com on Thursday 10th March 2016 18.46 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010