At approximately 10.30am on Friday morning in the Laoshan velodrome in Beijing, Bradley Wiggins will begin his quest for three gold medals. It?s a challenge he?s set himself that would write him in to the history books of British sport.
Only one Briton, swimmer Henry Taylor, has won three golds in one Games, but that was in 1908. Dame Kelly Holmes won two in Athens, and Sir Steve Redgrave won five in five games, but what Wiggins is trying for is unequalled in the modern era of British sport.
In Athens he won a full set of medals, gold silver and bronze, but recently admitted that he didn?t take the team pursuit and Madison as seriously as he should after he?d won his individual pursuit gold.
At the world champs this year he tested himself over the three events and came away with three golds, and the belief that it was possible at the Olympics.
His first event at the games is the Individual Pursuit, where, as world champion, he will start last in the qualifying round and give the world a glimpse of the form he is in. Rumours coming out of the holding camp in Newport three weeks ago were that Wiggins was in the form of his life, and that he had a very real chance of getting close, if not breaking, Chris Boardman?s world record of 4.11.114 minutes.
If he stops the clock within just two seconds of Boardman?s time ? that was set in the now banned Superman position – his quest to become the first Briton to win three gold medals in one games in 100 years will be on. Can he do it? Here?s what we think.
As three time world champion Wiggins is the stand out favourite for the individual pursuit. Dutchman Jenning Huizenga beat him in qualifying in Manchester but Wiggins was a comfortable winner in the final. Wiggins has only lost two competitive pursuits in his career, the last one at the 2002 Commonwealth Games to Bradley McGee. Wiggins then beat McGee in Athens, since when the Australian has never even challenged for the title, instead concentrating on the team pursuit. He?s been talking a good race of late but Wiggins definitely has the psychological edge. If the Brit rides to the schedule he is capable of, the gold is as good as his.
CW says ? only injury or illness can beat Wiggo GOLD
This one is partly out of Wiggins? hands as it?s a team event and everyone has to get it right. The Brits have won the world title three times in the last four years and have been getting faster and faster since Athens and are now the world record holders. Nothing is a given though, there are three rounds to be ridden and a bad change or touch of wheels can bring it all crashing down.
The team pursuit starts the day after the IP and Wiggins is likely to be rested in the first ride as they only have to qualify in the top eight to make it in to the second round.
CW says ? Not as simple as the IP but the Brits are the team to beat. Only the Danes and the Aussies are likely to challenge them. GOLD
In Wiggins and Mark Cavendish the British team have a dream pairing; the best pursuiter in the world and the best bunch sprinter in the world. The height difference took a bit of getting used to but by the time they reached the world champs last March they were gelling nicely. They were heavily marked during the worlds, but still had the strength to ride away from the field to gain a lap. It was an amazing ride where the noise from the crowd made the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
There?s a bit of banter going between the two, and played out in the press, but don?t believe the mickey taking, they?re a close couple
CW says – An absolute lottery and other teams could gang up on the Brits to stop them winning any more titles, but we?re backing them nonetheless. GOLD
We texted a few people who?s names are in our mobiles to see what they thought of Wiggins? chances. Only four were willing to put their necks on the line.
“I?m sure Bradley will win two! If he wins three is hard to say. Him and Mark are the big favourites in the Madison. That doesn?t make it easier. They have to control the race AND have to make enough points or a lap at the right time ? that?s not easy! It needs to be a fast, hard race without too many tactics, then they will win, I cross my Fingers.”
“I?m not Alan Pieper!”
Alan Pieper (or not)
“Knowing Brad as I do, and knowing the way he prepares I?d say yes. When he sets himself a challenge he?s the best I?ve ever known at preparing for it. If anyone can pull it off, he can.”
Team Plowman Craven
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