There will be extra pressure on Mark Cavendish at the Ghent Six Day, which starts on Tuesday night, with the track event marking Bradley Wiggins’s final competition.
Live music and the scent of Belgian lager, as always, should fill the Kuipke velodrome and provide Wiggins a proper farewell party. After finishing second at London Six Day, the Madison world champions are pairing again.
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Wiggins, who last raced on the road in the Tour of Britain, said that Ghent would be his cycling farewell. He was born in Ghent and lived there for two years while his father Gary Wiggins raced.
“To be fair I haven’t thought about that,” Cavendish told Sky Sports of Wiggins’s last event.
“I have been trying to concentrate on being good for Ghent. I didn’t want to come to the last race and let him down or be in bad condition for it.
“As we get closer to Sunday, I might get a bit emotional but at the minute, it’s OK, we are just trying to concentrate on the racing.”
Wiggins has not spoken to journalists since the post-event interviews at the London Six Day, and after the teams’ presentation yesterday in the Flemish university city, he left without comment
The Tour de France winner and five-time Olympic gold medallist has been entangled in scandal since a Russian hacker group released his TUEs. The UKAD is investigating this and allegations of wrong-doing in Sky and British Cycling.
Watch: highlights of the final day of the London Six Day
Wiggins should bow out in style. He returns to where he first saw a bicycle race and to where he won with Matthew Gilmore in 2003. Iljo Keisse (Etixx–Quick-Step), from Ghent and a six-time winner, joked, “If the fans only cheer for Wiggins, I’ll go home.”
Keisse is pairing with Olympic Omnium gold medallist, Italian Elia Viviani (Sky). Belgians Kenny De Ketele and Moreno De Pauw, the London victors, will also race.
“We have both been training hard. We both want to win. We have made no secrets about that but there are other strong competitors here,” Cavendish added.
“Ghent is the most historical and the most special of all the six days. It is the one that everyone wants to win.