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GB and Sky boss says Wiggins must fight for place - and that Cavendish situation more complex

Sir Dave Brailsford says that riding for track gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016 would make "a fitting end" to Sir Bradley Wiggins' career. British Cycling's performance director, who is also team prinicipal at Sky, says Mark Cavendish's situation is more complicated, however, since given his professional team's priorities.

Wiggins, winner of four Olympic gold medals, three of them in the velodrome as well as the time trial on the road at London 2012, that success coming less than a fortnight after he became the first British rider to win the Tour de France.

Sky team mate Chris Froome succeeded him to the yellow jersey last year and will once again lead the British WorldTour team's challenge when this year's race gets under way in Yorkshire in July.

That leaves Wiggins, who will turn 34 in April, chasing other goals as his career heads towards its conclusion, and Brailsford believes that the team pursuit in Rio, which the rider has said he would like to ride in, could be the ideal way for him to bring down the curtain.

However, he warned that Wiggins, who helped Team GB to gold in that event at Beijing in 2008 and has also won the Olympic individual pursuit title twice, wouldn't be an automatic choice and that he would have to fight for his place on merit rather than reputation alone. .

Asked whether Wiggins could make the squad for Rio, Brailsford, speaking ahead of the UCI Track World Championships in Cali, Colombia, and quoted on Sky Sports, said: "I can't see why it couldn't be. That would be the end of Brad's career, I think, and if you think about a fitting end to his career, it would make a great last chapter.

"If Bradley can make the sacrifice, then, the athlete that he is, I can't see why he couldn't be selected. He would have to start thinking about it seriously a couple of years out and ride some world cups, but it is easily done.

"I think we would be in support of that, but just because he is called Bradley Wiggins doesn't mean he is going to be selected. It would be a tall order, but then he is exceptional."

With Sky and Britiah Cycling sharing the same management, it would be easy for Wiggins' programme over the next couple seasons to be tailiored to challenging for gold at on the track for Rio, but Brailsford says Cavendish is in a different situation.

The sprinter was at Sky In 2012, when his season was built around his unsuccessful campaign for road race Olympic gold in London meaning it was easy for him to prioritise his training and racing programme around that goal.

He moved to Omega Pharma-Quick Step ahead of the 2013 season, and last year  expressed an interest in trying to get into the team pursuit squad for Rio to try and win that elusive Olympic medal.

However, team manager Patrick Lefevere has since banned Cavendish from the track, saying that his priority has to be the road and also highlighting the risk of a crash potentially wrecking his season.

Brailsford says it's an understandable attitude, but one that all but ends any track ambitions held by Cavendish, who has already acknowledged he is now concentrating exclusively on the road.

"Mark would be welcome back and I think it would be a fantastic opportunity, and it would be really interesting to see," said Brailsford.

"The issue that we don't have control of is what his team want him to do in terms of a race programme. That is up to him to decide with his team, and that will be a discussion for them.

"Within Team Sky, it is me [who makes the decision] - there is no issue. If you are a Belgian guy running a Belgian team and you are paying a lot of money for one of the world's best sprinters, do you want him to miss some of the key races in the season so he can go and ride the team pursuit for Great Britain in the Olympic Games? Nobody would want that to happen, so therein lies the challenge."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

5 comments

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MikeOnABike [88 posts] 2 years ago
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"who helped Team GB to gold in that event at Beijing in 2009"

I think your finger slipped. Beijing was 2008.

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ChairRDRF [315 posts] 2 years ago
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I think people would remember Brad Wiggins holding the hour record more than a team pursuit Olympic medal.

Wait till Fabian gets the athlete's record, then go to the super fast track in Mexico, Team Sky's marginal gains mob and you're there...

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mikefreer [17 posts] 2 years ago
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I think Brad has a great chance to get gold at Rio.
After a rocky year last year, he has made it clear that he is back on track with training and has some ambitious goals.
I think he can do it, and it would be a great end to his career!!
(Shame Cav might not be able to compete on the track tho)

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mtm_01 [196 posts] 2 years ago
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Wiggins has been a cert for medals on the track for around 10 years now, everytime he focuses on it he seems to deliver. Would be hard to argue that he wouldn't get it in Rio too!

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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If Cav is that hungry for it, he'd make it happen. Employers can be resigned from, contracts can be bought out of. Fair do s to him if he decides to remain at OPQS, and his palmares already guarantee a place on history, but he's the one who decides what he wants the most. I can't help but think he's left it a bit late - he no longer has quite the same air of invincibility these day - significant that Brailsford's description also seems to agree with this perception.