Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian Sir Chris Hoy believes Sir Bradley Wiggins’ return to the track will yield at least another gold medal – but warns breaking back into the British team will be one of the hardest challenges he will have ever faced.
The 2012 Tour de France winner announced on Monday he is to quit road racing at the close of next season in pursuit of finishing his career with another Olympic gold in three years’ time at Rio 2016.
On top of his yellow jersey Wiggins has four Olympic gold medals to his name after successes on the track in 2004 and 2008 before winning the time trial on the streets of London last year.
And Hoy, a six-time Olympic gold medallist, believes if anyone is capable of being in contention for silverware after making the switch it’s Wiggins – a man he called the greatest all-round cyclist we have ever seen.
“It must be really hard for Bradley because he has achieved everything there is to achieve in cycling, it’s not just track cycling or road cycling – he has done the lot,” said Hoy, who was speaking at the launch of SSE’s Commonwealth Games ambassadors.
“He is the greatest all-round cyclist we have ever produced and he has come to the point where he realises to try and be a Grand Tour winner again would take such a huge commitment that he would rather come back to being with his family and being based in one place.
“It doesn’t take any less effort or any less commitment but at least he can be in one place and to finish off his career back on the track where he first started would be a fitting end to his career.
“And I am sure he will be successful in winning at least one gold medal, it is definitely a possibility for him.
“Some people might just assume that he might just step straight back into his spot but he is under no illusions that it isn’t going to be that easy because the standard is incredibly high.”
With the contrasting physiological demands of road and track cycling, Wiggins faces a stern challenge to rebuild the muscle and explosive energy to compete at the highest level in the velodrome.
And given that the British team is already blessed with a plethora of world-class cyclists in the form of 2012 Olympic Champions Ed Clancy and Steven Burke and Andy Tennant, fifth man in London, Wiggins won’t be guaranteed a place on the start line.
However, Hoy insists his former teammate will be highly motivated to come good on his promise to end his career on a high.
“From winning a three-week stage race where you have to be incredibly light – I think he was down to ten kilos lighter than he was on the track – he will need to build the muscle and the power needed for the team pursuit,” he added.
“That won’t be easy but if anybody can do it Bradley can, he has achieved so many great things in his career and he has that experience and I am sure he has the motivation too.
“It will be a whole new challenge for him to get back into the team pursuit frame of mind and stepping back into a more explosive event.
“Physiologically it is definitely a different task and I have no doubts he is up for the challenge but I am sure his teammates will be fighting for a place and that means the team will be guaranteed of a really high level in 2016.”
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