Bradley Wiggins believes that the Great Britain track team are starting to collectively pull in the right direction. The team were under fire at the start of the championships after their sprint teams disappointed and riders spoke out against certain management decisions. However, Wiggins, who led the men's pursuit team to silver on Thursday, is confident that the squad are on track for the Rio Olympics. The former Tour de France winner also offered his backing to team performance director Shane Sutton, likening him to Jose Mourinho and telling Cyclingnews that the Australian is the "kind of guy you want in the trenches with you."
Cyclingnews spoke exclusively to Wiggins after a training session on Saturday at the UCI Track World Championships, finding time to sit down with him inside the London Olympic velodrome. He rides with Mark Cavendish in Sunday's Madison and has seen the Great Britian team find their feet in these championships after a rocky start.
"It seems to be pulling in the right direction now. There were some murmurs at the start of the week but we're top of the medal table at the moment. Jason Kenny is looking good in the sprint and Laura Trott is good for the Omnium and I've got the Madison with Mark. As a whole, the big guns for the team pursuit, Jason, Laura, all those guys now seem to be on track for Rio," Wiggins told Cyclingnews.
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Wiggins recently praised the team pursuit coach, Heiko Salzwedel, likening him to Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal. The pursuit rider came up with another football analogy for Shane Sutton, comparing him to Jose Mourinho.
"He's a bit more like Jose," Wiggins said, before giving an insight into how Sutton operates and the Australian's passion and hunger for success.
"He speaks from the hip and he doesn't mind upsetting people. He says it how it is and people either like that or they hate it, but when he's on your side he's 100 per cent behind you and he will give you the world. He's the kind of guy you want in the trenches with you when you're in these battles. Interestingly Jose and van Gaal worked together in the past."
"Shane has been a mainstay for most of the Olympics. The only one he wasn't at was Sydney and he's been there since Athens. When he's around the team he lifts them, but the only difference now is that he's the top boss because Dave [Brailsford] moved on. He's got a slightly different role, Shane, but he gives advice as he sees it. It means it's different but Shane the next best and he's taken over the main job."
Pursuit on track
Wiggins and his pursuit teammates were edged out in the final against arch-rivals Australia. The home nation had set the fastest time in qualifying and held off the Italian in their semi-final. However they were dispatched by a ruthless display from Australia, even though Wiggins and his teammates were ahead with just over a lap to go.
In the aftermath of the final Salzwedel admitted that he had made an error in his selection for the final, and that Ed Clancy, who recently came back from surgery, had been a risk to start against Australia.
"Some guys haven't quite been at the level they've been on in the past like Steven Burke but some guys like Jon Dibben have stepped up massively from a year ago and we saw what he did last night in the points race and in the team pursuit he's almost won his Olympic spot now," Wiggins said.
"Owain Doull is like a young Geraint Thomas and just wants it. He's extremely talented. Then you've got the big players like Ed who have come back to fitness."
"With Rio in mind we're in a fantastic position," Wiggins added.
"With a lap to go we were leading. Ed hadn't done any starts with us in training and we lost 7 tenths (of a second) to them in the first lap. He perhaps went out a bit too slow but that was risk we took by putting him in. You think about all those things and what we could have done differently, but if we had raced the same race again a night later you could say we might have won it by three tenths. Hindsight is wonderful but we did what we did at the time and got beat. We're not far away and that's the main thing. If we get everything right for Rio then we'll put ourselves in with a better opportunity."