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FEATURE One more for the record books: Wiggins seeks track cycling glory By Stefan Tabeling, dpa

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His Olympic career goes all the way back to Sydney in 2000. But Sir Bradley Wiggins is far from calling it quits. In fact, he is musing out loud about the 2020 games in Tokyo.

Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Sir Bradley Wiggins is looking pretty relaxed and in good humour these days, belying the burning ambition of adding one more episode of glory in an already glorious cycling career.

Now 36, Wiggins had actually planned to bow out after his stellar year of 2012, when he won not only the Tour de France, but also Olympic gold in London in the time trial event.

But now he‘s back, and his sights are set on the men‘s 4000m team sprint in track cycling - with no less a goal than setting a new world record. He‘s been training hard, and he‘s happy.

"The last 12 months have been the best in a long time," he said. A medal in Rio would bring his total Olympic tally to eight - more than any other British cyclist - after his tally of four golds, one silver and two bronze from his previous exploits at the Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London games.

At the moment, he‘s feeling pretty strong. In fact, "the way I feel now, I could carry on until Tokyo. I think that physically it could go on for another four years. Whether I would want to is another thing."

For a career showing so much glory, so many medals, Wiggins looks back with mixed feelings about all the doubts about the sport.

"I hated (Lance) Armstrong for giving that interview to Oprah Winfrey," he said, referring to the famous TV appearance confessing his doping violations. "And I hated being the Tour winner at a time when all these questions had to be answered."

That was also the time four years ago, when London was almost literally gripped by "Wiggomania" as he won the Cycling Road gold, cheered on by hundreds of thousands of fans lining the route. The feat earned him a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, and he was constantly in the media limelight.

"I wasn‘t ready for all of that," Wiggins says now of all the turmoil. "You just lived from one day to the next. Everybody grabbing at you from left and right. It was tough."

He says that his entire life had been focused on that race of August 2, 2012. "But nobody told me about what happens next," he said. The pressures of fame affect his private life, his children. "They were seven and eight years old and they couldn‘t understand why all of a sudden everbody wanted something from their father."

Now, the kids are four years older, while Wiggins is actually cycling faster on the track than he did in Sydney in 2000, when he won a bronze medal. The sprint team, which also includes Ed Clancy, Owain Doull and Steven Burke, has already posted a world record time in training, says the team‘s German coach, Heiko Salzwedel. "It‘s no secret. Some people witnessed it," he said.

The British team (Burke, Clancy, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas) set the team pursuit world record in London at 3 minutes 51.659 seconds. Now the current British team is talking about a time of 3:49, aided by skin-like suits and special wheels.

Given such expectations, anything but gold in Rio would be a huge disappointment, Wiggins concedes. "Something must really go seriously wrong for us to lose," he says. The Australian sprint team that beat the British team at the world championships in March look to be the most serious rivals.

Looking back, it was Germany who won the cycling track gold at the 2000 games in Sydney. Wiggins won bronze then with his team. "It seems just like yesterday. And now here I am, I‘m 36, and feel like 19," Sir Bradley says.



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(22.02.2019 06:08)

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