The Tour of Britain wasn't the end of the road for Bradley Wiggins after all. After seemingly retiring from professional road cycling in front of huge home crowds in London little over a week ago, the 36-year-old already has a comeback lined up after confirmation of his participation in October's Abu Dhabi Tour.
This is Wiggins' last season and his final bows are set to come on the track at the Six Days of London in late October and then at his birthplace of Gent in November, both of which will see him line up alongside fellow Madison world champion Mark Cavendish.
The Tour of Britain, it seemed, was his final competitive outing on a road bike, and he soaked up the atmosphere in the British capital as if it were a farewell.
"That is certainly it for the road – and what a way to finish," he said unequivocally in front of the television cameras after the final stage.
Cyclingnews understands that the organisers of the Abu Dhabi Tour – Giro d'Italia runners RCS Sport and the emirate's Sports Council – were puzzled – not to mention a tad concerned – when they heard the quotes.
Wiggins' eponymous Continental team rode the inaugural edition last year, and has long since confirmed its attendance for this year's edition, which will take place between October 20-23. The race organisation had assumed the man himself would be coming, and had all the preparations in place to welcome him and his family, but were left waiting for confirmation.
With the official presentation of the race taking place in Abu Dhabi today [Tuesday], they were still wondering this morning whether they'd be able to announce the iconic Briton among this year's headliners. But confirmation was received just in time and he joined fellow Rio Olympic gold medallists Greg van Avermaet and Elia Viviani in being announced for the start line, along with Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali, and Mark Cavendish.
Since the Tour of Britain, Wiggins has been caught up in the controversy surrounding the leak of Therapeutic Use Exception (TUE) data by the Fancy Bears hackers.
The leaked documents revealed that Wiggins had applied for six TUE, and that on three occasions he had received intramauscular injections before major Grand Tours in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He and Team Sky claimed that these were applied for on legitimate medical grounds due to Wiggins' having long-standing asthma and pollen allergies. These procedures and the administration of the said TUEs were in-line with the WADA code but have raised questions over Team Sky's stance on TUEs and Wiggins' previous comments in his book.
Several medical and physiological experts have raised questions about the timing and possible abuse of the TUE, sparking a debate about Team Sky's ethics and transparency.
Wiggins has not spoken directly about his TUE, instead his representatives issued two statements.
"There's nothing new here. Everyone knows Brad suffers from asthma; his medical treatment is BC [British Cycling - ed] and UCI approved and like all TEAMGB athletes he follows WADA regulations to the letter. The leak of these records is an attempt to undermine the credibility of WADA and that's something for them to deal with," the first statement said.
"Brad's passing comment regarding needles in the 2012 book referred to the historic (illegal) practice of intravenous injections of performance enhancing substances which was the subject of the 2011 UCI law change," the second statement said.
"The traimcinolone injection that is referred to in the WADA leaks is an intramuscular treatment for asthma, is fully approved by the sport's governing bodies and Brad stands by his comment concerning the use of illegal intravenous needle injections."
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