Bradley Wiggins has been out of the main sporting limelight for some time. After his stunning year in 2012, some idle watchers of sport (such as myself) may be wondering just what has happened to him?
Tour de France 2013-14
If like me you only follow the Tour de France and any TV coverage of track cycling, it is easy to think that Wiggo took time out and put his feet up. This isn’t the case. From what I understand, Wiggins was out just competed within Team Sky and Froome took his place as team captain. He’s been an active member of the team but hampered by injury and illness. Last year his health made life hell for him, and in part due to a chest infection he got involved in a pile up at the Tour of Switzerland, putting paid to his ambitions to be part of Team Sky in their disastrous Tour de France.
Quitting Team Sky
Wiggins has been given a contract extension by Team Sky to race in one of the hardest of all one day races in the cycling calendar, the Paris Roubaix, later this year. The 257km, mostly cobbled ‘Hell of the North’ race will be his last road race with Team Sky. His best position to date has been 9th, but this time he is one of the favourites to win, though with his typical modesty he plays this down somewhat.
A new road cycling team is being set up, led by Wiggins and backed by Sky. This is a project to help inspire young cyclists to follow in his path. He will be cycling in the team, and has some major supporters who may well compete with Team Wiggins. Don’t expect Team Wiggins to crush the opposition on the Tourmelet stage in the Tour de France any time soon – this is a British team for British road races, and there are no plans as yet to take on the world!
Track cycling into the future…?
The rider started his career in track cycling, and so it seems the discipline will book-end his career. After the Paris Roubaix he is planning the hour record, which is simply an attempt to do the most miles in an hour of cycling on a track. Fans will know he’s an amazing time triallist and this should be one of his strengths. With the current hour record at 52.491km, many of his circle are saying that 55km (34.375 miles) is within the great man’s grasp. Again, Wiggo is realistic about his ability to achieve this, saying “I thought he [Dennis] could do a mid-53 but I said that about Bobridge”.
He has signaled his plans to race at Rio 2016, which could be where he retires. Team GB’s track cycling team really need a cycling giant to help with morale right now, as they have been beaten soundly in recent track events. When you’re at the top of the pile, everyone is aiming at taking you down and at the World Championships last month, they saw real weakness. Team GB took home three Silver medals and not even one Gold, which by the team’s standards is diabolical.
There has been a change of management at the top of the team with Team Sky’s Dave Brailsford quitting as Performance Director last year. With such a powerful force at the top standing aside, and some key members of the team itself retiring there may have been some flux within. British cycling isn’t short of its global megastars and Wiggo coming in – as long as he has a good run – may well inject the buzz back into the team. Judging by the way he led Team Sky to victory in the Tour de France in 2012, Wiggins is a good team player and could really help with the internal morale.
Will we see more of him?
Though there won’t be the global stardom experienced in 2012, Bradley Wiggins won’t be forgotten in the cycling world. If you’re a sports generalist like me, he won’t be on your radar a lot in the coming years. He’ll be firmly ensconced in the world cycling peloton though, a force to be reckoned with and never to be forgotten! Keep an eye out next year in Rio – Wiggins is one of the great hopes of a major thread of Team GB’s ambitions.