Bradley Wiggins: Australia our biggest rivals for Olympic gold

'They did milk it at the Worlds when they beat us but that's what makes it great'

Over the years Bradley Wiggins has had his fair share of battles with Australian athletes, whether on the road or the track, but he has pinpointed the men in green and gold as the squad to beat in the team pursuit at the Rio Olympics.

Great Britain have won the last two editions of the Olympic team pursuit - in London (2012) and Beijing (2008), beating Australia in the final four years ago and setting a new world record in the process. However, in the Olympic cycle since those heady days in the British capital the competition has become tougher, with Australia setting the benchmark at the World championships in February against a Wiggins-led Britain in the final.

When the track programme starts on Thursday and the team pursuit riders start their qualifying round, Great Britain and Australian will not be the only teams to monitor, but Wiggins believes that with he and his teammates reportedly setting world records in training, and Australia brimming in confidence, the gold medal could be decided by the two long-serving rival nations.

"I've said that it's going to take a world record to win the gold. We don't need to mince our words. We know it's going to take a sub 3:50 to win and that's the bar we've set ourselves. We've been training towards that goal in terms of power, cadence and gears for the last 18 months. We're still aiming to do that but by how much it drops by remains to be seen. I'm sure that the Aussies are thinking that way as well," Wiggins told a small group of reporters, including Cyclingnews, before the Games.

"It's a friendly rivalry really," he said, when discussing the rivalry with Australia.

"I'm the first to go over and shake their hands but they're the worst winners in the world and also the worst losers as well," he said with a smile.

"They did milk it at the Worlds when they beat us but that's what makes it great. It’s a good rivalry."

In London at the World Championships, Great Britain were still finding their feet as a squad and Ed Clancy had only just returned to competition after a back injury. Australia were on a different level then and will be the favourites to take gold in an event they have not secured Olympic gold in since 2004 – when they beat a team that included Wiggins into silver.

"We know they are our biggest challengers on paper, and the Kiwis, but based on the world championships and their strength in depth it has to be Australia because of the amount of teams and combinations they have that can still post world record times. They're our biggest rivals for sure."

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