As he prepares to compete in the Cali Track World Cup in Colombia, Bradley Wiggins has hinted he may continue to race after the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, finally hanging up his bike in December 2016 after riding the Ghent Six and other track and road events.
Wiggins will ride the team pursuit in Colombia on Friday, chasing vital qualification points for Rio and success against major rivals Australia and New Zealand.
"I'm fully in the track zone now, so I'm not really thinking about retirement, I'm just enjoying it at the moment," Wiggins told The Telegraph newspaper in an interview.
"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.
"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."
35 year-old Wiggins confirmed he plans to ride the Tour of California in May as key endurance training for the Olympics. He revealed he has also added the Dubai Tour to his planned schedule to prepare for the Track World Championships in March. He will compete on the road as part of his Wiggins Continental team, helping develop several of his British teammates from the track get a taste of international racing and perhaps help them secure contracts with major teams.
In another interview with the Velouk website, Wiggins hinted that Owain Doull’s success at Team Wiggins had secured the young Briton a professional contract for 2017. Team Wiggins will have a roster of 17 riders in 2016 and an expanded race programme.
"I'll be racing at the Tour of Dubai at the start of next year and then in May the Tour of California. I'm supposed to have retired from the road, but here I am going back," Wiggins told The Telegraph.
"It's more for the team really, we have good riders like Owain 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.”
In pursuit of 3:50 in Rio
Wiggins will ride the team pursuit in Cali with Doull, Steven Burke, Andy Tennant, and Jon Dibben. Ed Clancy was not selected due to a back injury but remains a key member of the squad due to his ability to get the pursuit quartet up to record breaking speed. Great Britain won the recent European team pursuit title with a time of 3:55. Wiggins confirmed that Great Britain is working to go faster than 3:50 in Rio as they chase Olympic gold.
"The Kiwis and the Aussies will be there. It will be a good test for us as we enter the next phase in the countdown to Rio," Wiggins said, referring to Cali.
"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.”
"It [3:55 at the European championships] was a really good marker and a sign that we're where we want to be in preparation for Rio. If Ed misses the World Championships, though, it will be a big worry for us. The medical team in Manchester are looking after him and, apparently, he's doing really well. 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."