Sir Bradley Wiggins, despite his talent, hard work, and indecent levels of success, has a problem.
After a stellar career, with the Olympic golds and the Tour de France title that defined him as a star, it now seems unlikely that he’s ever again going to be a serious Tour contender.
Unfortunately for Wiggins, once you’ve won the Tour, winning it again is the only thing that really impresses anyone. A track spot at Rio is probably a long shot despite his record, and anyway, Rio is three years away. Despite his talent and fame, the mighty Wiggo has nowhere obvious to go next.
The hour record also has a problem. After a stellar career as the most coveted record in cycling, fought over by names like Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx, it’s now become a neglected backwater. A series of rule changes that culminated with the strange Athlete’s hour regulations – retro 1970s bikes only – have seen it ignored by the top pros. For over a decade now, it has been stumbling around, with nowhere obvious to go next.
The hour needs Wiggins. Yes, Fabian Cancellara has declared first, with an attempt planned in the spring. But the hour needs a rivalry. It needs a ding-dong battle among the best, and if Cancellara and Wiggins go for it, Tony Martin will follow them in. Then it becomes the world time trial championships, times a hundred. It will be bragging rights for a whole generation of exceptional riders.
But Wiggins needs the hour even more. No one since Chris Boardman has been as well-suited to the event as Wiggins. He’s an outstanding time trial rider – like Cancellara and Martin. But unlike them, he’s steeped in the track. He knows its rhythms, perhaps even better that Boardman, the swinging acceleration through the banking, the slingshot on to the straight.
That’s not all. The Athlete’s hour is different from anything else in cycling – the oddball bike and position needs a development programme all on its own, one on which Cancellara’s sponsors have already embarked.
Wiggins has exactly the support behind him (Sky and Team GB) you’d want if you were planning an hour attempt. Over the last few years no one has been better at managing cycling R&D.
The triple whammy of Wiggins’s engine, his track experience and his back-up staff could be an unbeatable combo – one that could see him set the record of his era.
This article was first published in the November 28 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!