Sir Bradley Wiggins is pleased with the progress that he and the British team pursuit squad is making, having claimed the gold medal at the European Track Championships in Grenchen, Switzerland, on Thursday evening.
Wiggins is aiming to be part of GB’s team pursuit line-up for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and his performance in Switzerland was a major step towards that goal.
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The 35-year-old wants to win one more Olympic medal to add to his current tally of seven: four gold, one silver and two bronze. A final medal would make him outright the most decorated British Olympian in history, an accolade he currently shares with retired GB track sprinter Sir Chris Hoy – although Hoy has more gold medals (six).
The British squad completely dominated the team pursuit in Grenchen, setting the fastest qualifying time, beating Russia in the opening round and then beating home nation Switzerland in the final to take the European title.
“It was really good. We had three tough rides in two days, and two rides today,” Wiggins told British Cycling after the podium ceremony.
“We tried so many different combinations that we’re pleased to get three good rides in with different riders – we tried everyone.”
“To record a time like that in a final, everyone’s really happy. We’re missing Ed Clancy who’s a big part of the team but we’re European Champions, so we’ve achieved a goal, so Heiko [Salzwedel – GB coach] is happy.”
Only Hour record holder Wiggins and Welshman Owain Doull were selected for all three of the rides, with other members of the team – Jon Dibben, Matt Gibson, Steven Burke and Andy Tennant – slotting in and out of the line-up.
Double Olympic and four-time world team pursuit champion Clancy was forced to miss the event due to a back injury, but is still one of the front runners for Rio selection.
How the three GB team pursuit line-ups compare
In the three rounds of the team pursuit at the European Track Championships, Britain fielded three slightly different line-ups. Wiggins and Doull were the constants, riding in all three races. Even without TP mainstay Clancy, it shows that GB has a strong pool of riders from which to make its Olympic selection.
The line up of Wiggins, Doull, Dibben and Tennant produced the fastest time of the three GB efforts in the final. The time set for round one is slightly skewed as the riders eased off in the final lap as they realised they had beaten Russia.
3-55.243 – Gold medal final (against Switzerland) – Wiggins, Doull, Tennant, Dibben
3-57.277 – Qualification – Wiggins, Doull, Tennant, Burke
3-57.513 – Round one (against Russia) – Wiggins, Doull, Gibson, Burke
Watch: Show us your scars – Ed Clancy
The current men’s team pursuit world record is 3-51.659 set by the Great Britain team of Clancy, Burke, Tennant and Geraint Thomas at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Wiggins did not ride on the track at the 2012 Games, instead claiming time trial gold after winning the Tour de France the previous month.