Briton Bradley Wiggins rose above the pressure to take the individual pursuit title at the World Championships in Manchester on Wednesday, and is now looking forward to the team pursuit competition, taking place on the second day of the World Championships.
His past record of one Olympic and two World titles in the individual pursuit – including last year at Mallorca – combined with riding on home soil meant Wiggins was very much under the spotlight at Manchester on Wednesday night.
But the High Road professional had no problems with the pressure-cooker atmosphere. The 27 year-old deliberately held back in the qualifying leg to finish second to Jenning Huizenga of Holland – but then outgunned the Dutchman by nearly five seconds in the final. "I formed a schedule in my mind of what I would need to ride to beat him and stuck to it," Wiggins said afterwards. "Keeping to that was enough for it all to work out. It's a massive relief to have done this, and really satisfying too."
Nevertheless, the pursuit threw up a number of surprises, with big names such as Volodymyr Dyudya (Ukraine), Dominique Cornu (Belgium), Sergei Escobar (Spain) and Bartko finishing back in tenth, twelfth, thirteenth and sixteenth respectively. Others such as Huizenga, Hayden Roulston (New Zealand) and David O'Loughlin (Ireland) performed above expectations in placing second, fourth and sixth.
"There were a few surprises," Wiggins told Cyclingnews. "This is Olympic year and everybody has stepped up their game a little bit. You could see that in the times this morning. Huizenga has gradually been progressing in the last year or two. It was a fantastic ride for him."
He and the rest of the British Cycling team will chase more medals on Thursday's second day of the championships, with events such as the men's team pursuit, the sprint qualifiers plus the women's individual pursuit and team sprint all taking place.
As mentioned, Wiggins will aim for a second gold in the team pursuit, seeking to repeat the achievement of the 2007 Worlds. "This is about three events [individual pursuit, team pursuit on Thursday and Madison on Saturday with Mark Cavendish] and we're favourites in the team pursuit as well. All the guys in the team pursuit are going really well. Thursday is going to be another exciting day," he added.
The riders will be further motivated by the location, with the home crowd willing them on. "It is fantastic. It is great to ride here, be it in the Revolutions or the World Cup or a World Championships... The crowd is always fantastically supportive, and it is great to be able to win in front of them," said Wiggins. "This is certainly one of my best world titles [because of that]," concluded Wiggins.
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