British Cycling’s Shane Sutton has insisted that Bradley Wiggins will take on Paris-Roubaix with the same belief and determination that served him so well during the rider’s previous three Olympic campaigns.
Wiggins has made Paris-Roubaix the number one target during his final season on the road, and he plans on returning to the track after the race in order to concentrate on the Hour Record and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Sutton has been a longstanding friend, coach and confidant for Wiggins over the years, and helped him towards Tour de France and Olympic successes. Last year Wiggins finished a creditable ninth in Paris-Roubaix and was a key protagonist in the race.
“He was in the mix (in 2014). He had a great opportunity last year but as I say, I think he’ll take the same outlook as he took from the Olympics and the project for the world TT,” Sutton said, pointing to Wiggins most recent success at the 2014 World Championships, where he won the rainbow jersey in the time trial.
“It was one that had eluded him for quite some time. And Roubaix, exactly the same thing. He’s gone into it last year on the back of a 25th at 11 minutes [down] at Garmin - for someone who was then a track rider turning his hand to the road, to do that and then to step up and run 9th and be in the mix last year. The belief he’s going to take into this year will be massive so don’t put it past him to pull it off. Once he gets a focus, he’s like a dog with a bone.”
Sutton was speaking at the National Cycling Centre, in Manchester, and added that Wiggins has the athletic potential to slip back into track mode as and when he wanted, however he added that no rider will be guaranteed a place on reputation alone, so despite Wiggins’s track and road development team, the former Tour winner must set the required times if he is to make the pursuit team for Rio.
“Technically I don’t think he’ll have a problem at all. However the goalposts are moving on a regular basis, and these guys are going quicker and quicker. Whether he can cope with that we’ll see. I’ve said it all along, Brad is not in the team [ed. if he’s not good enough]. But if anyone in the world of cycling could make this team it’s Wiggins and [Mark] Cavendish because they have this innate ability to go very fast on a bike, both technically very good and they’re the two guys who can cope.”
Before the Rio Olympics, Wiggins will also target the Hour Record with an attempt scheduled for June at the London Olympic velodrome. A number of contenders are out to break the current record before then, with Rohan Dennis and Jack Bobridge among them, but Sutton thinks that Wiggins can surpass their efforts and set a benchmark marker for years to come.
“I’ve spoken to Brad the other day on this and I think he will, but it’s not going to be easy. You have a guy who’s done a 4:11 going for it this week. Brad and I talked about Rohan and Jack going for it and they’ll set good distances. Brad’s going to have to work hard but if anyone’s going to set a distance that’ll stand out there for quite a while I’d say it’s going to be Brad for sure,” he said.
“That single minded focus he has - look at his ride at the Worlds last year, most people were thinking Tony Martin was the man but Brad singly went away and after the belief he took from winning Olympics, he took it into that project and he was just on another level to everyone else. If he takes that same mindset into the Hour, with the support team around him at Sky, the whole package, I think he could set something way out there.”