British Cycling’s technical director Shane Sutton has said that Bradley Wiggins’ position in the track squad for this summer’s Olympic Games is far from a forgone conclusion. Wiggins is looking to close out his career, which has seen him take four Olympic gold medals, at the end of this year.
The 35-year-old took a step back from his road cycling commitments a year ago and has since been putting his efforts into the track, with the ambition of riding on the boards at the Olympics in Rio. Wiggins was named in the team pursuit squad and in the madison for the Track World Championships next month in London but faces a battle to earn his plane ticket to Brazil.
“I’ve said, time and again, it’s an evidence-based selection that he’s involved in,” Sutton said in an interview with the BBC. “There are six guys there in the mix at the time, Brad is one of the strong guys in the group, but he has to go out there and produce. That will determine whether he makes the road to Rio but as it sits, in this moment in time, he will be in the starting line-up in London, and hopefully, he can go well there and cement his place in Rio.”
Wiggins’ performances on the track have been solid since his return, and he has helped the team to a second place in the team pursuit at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and victory in the 2015 European Championships. He also set a new UCI Hour Record in June last year. His selection for the World Championships, along with fellow returnee Mark Cavendish, who will ride the madison with Wiggins, is a good sign with the Olympic so close, but Sutton says there is plenty of time for things to change.
“I think at this moment in time he’ll be in the starting line-up. I think that it is a big foot in the door for anybody that goes to London. This is predominantly our Olympic squad, but that’s not to say that people can’t come leftfield,” explained Sutton. “There are one or two sprinters that might have been left out or one or two endurance guys. They’ve got five months to turn that around. If they periodise well and do everything right then they can still come into the team; the door is not closed.”
The Track World Championships will begin on March 2 with the team pursuit qualifying. The finals for the team pursuit will take place the following day.