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Having considering retirement after next year’s Olympic Games in Rio, Bradley Wiggins has said that the new lease of life track racing has given him has enticed him to continue on after that point.
The Briton, who stepped back from the WorldTour this year and swopped Team Sky for the new Wiggins setup, said that his morale and enthusiasm for the sport has been boosted by the change.
“I’m fully in the track zone now, so I’m not really thinking about retirement, I’m just enjoying it at the moment,” he told the Telegraph, speaking in advance of this week’s Track World Cup in Cali, Colombia.
“It’s been refreshing coming back to the track. I think with the road I was getting to the stage where I was thinking ‘this is my last Paris-Nice, my last Tour of Flanders’ and it started to feel a little mundane, sort of clock watching. It felt like I was waiting to check out of work at five o’clock, whereas with this – the track – I’m just enjoying it. I was going to stop after Rio, but now I think I’d just love to carry on doing events throughout the winter.”
Wiggins confirmed that he will ride the Tour of Dubai at the start of next season and then head to the Tour of California in May. It’s a race he won before and while it’s unclear if he will be back in the same sort of shape – he’s put on weight to ride the track – his planned participation has earned the team an invite.
“It’s more for the team really,” he said. “We have good riders like Owain [Doull] and Scott Davies and the others, so it’s good to be there helping them out, just like we did at the Tour of Britain. It’s a change of role for me. The racing, too, helps with what we want to do on the track. That said, I don’t want to be racing 100 days on the road, I’ve finished with that.”
He explained his likely programme. Or, rather, how long he plans to keep racing.
“The likelihood is that I’ll retire in December 2016. Rather than stop in Rio, I’d like to come back and do events like the Revolution Series, the London Six and the Ghent Six Day. I’d like to go back to Ghent because it will be 18 years since I first rode it, so I’d love to go back – I’d be completing the circle, if you like.”
Wiggins was also born in Ghent, so there is another parallel there.
If everything goes to plan the British team pursuit squad for the Olympics will include Ed Clancy, who has huge track experience and also plenty of past results there.
Clancy missed out on the Europeans as he slipped a disk. Wiggins said that this impacted the time they recorded but, providing Clancy is fully fit, he believes they can go quicker.
“The team that rode in the final was missing Steven Burke and Ed Clancy and we were on world-record pace with six laps to go,” he said. “So you’d think that once we get those two back we can make further improvements.
“The goal for Rio is 3 min 50 sec. If you look at each Olympic cycle you’ll see the world record come down each time by two or three seconds. It was 3 min 59 sec in Sydney when I first rode and then it was 3 min 56 sec in Athens, 3 min 53 sec in Beijing and then 3 min 51 sec in London so that’s what we’re working to each day.”
He admitted that if Clancy is forced to miss the world championships that it will be a major worry. However, fortunately, he said that he is making good progress.
“The goal is to get him back, strong, in time for London in March. Once Cali is done we’ll be building towards the world championships which will be massive.”