Bradley Wiggins’ first competitive ride on the track in more than three years ended with a silver medal. England came off second best when they took on Australia in the team pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
Wiggins returned to training on the track last month as part of his bid to ride the team pursuit at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. When taking to the media after collecting his medal, Wiggins was pleased with the result but accepted that the road to Rio would be a long one.
"I’ve certainly answered the questions as to whether or not I could do it again. There’s a lot more room for improvement so I think that is going to take a lot more time and dedication to the track," he explained. "I think that there are a lot of positives to take from this year. I don’t want to sound like Roy Hodgson, but we’ve definitely got some work to do."
A formidable Australian line-up on the opposite side of the track, Jack Bobridge, Glenn O’Shea, Luke Davison and Alex Edmondson had set the fastest time in qualifying and were looking to go faster. Wiggins and his teammates were behind from the word go, after they were slow to move into formation at the start. After a single lap, the deficit was already close to a second.
Ed Clancy led the team out of the blocks, but it was Wiggins who was doing the big pulls – a tactic they had used in the morning session, too. However, tired from chasing the Australians, things began to break up. They lost a man and began swapping out every half a lap. Australia crossed the line in a time of 3:54.851, faster than their qualifying time, while England stopped the clock almost a second slower than they had that morning.
Wiggins says that a rushed build-up hampered their performance, but was confident that it had opened the door to bigger and better things. "We were all just on different levels and I think the strategy was just to go longer and take the strain off. We all had different preparation, and the team pursuit is about getting all four riders to the finish line," said Wiggins.
"In hindsight we’ll look back and say that this is a starting point for us now for the next two years. Rio is the goal and we’ve got to work back from that. It takes four people to be on par and we’ve all had such different preparation this year."
The Olympic Games in Rio lie just two years down the line. When asked if that would be enough to turn the team into the world-beaters that took gold in London, Wiggins was adamant in his answer.
"Definitely. We’ve done two world class rides there off four weeks of training so I think we’ll be there."