Bradley Wiggins has revealed that he plans to attempt the Hour record, most likely in June next year, and hopes to put down a benchmark for others to aim at in a bid to restore it to its former prestige.
The 2012 Tour de France champion outlined his ambitions to tackle the record in an interview with The Guardian’s William Fotheringham in which he also spoke about his chances to win the rainbow jersey in the time trial at next month’s UCI Road World Championships.
After a period in the 1990s when the likes of Graeme Obree, Francesco Moser and Chris Boardman battled for the record, it lost much of its attraction after the UCI changed the rules to ban aerodynamic bikes and riding positions, stipulating that riders should use equipment similar to that available to Eddy Merckx when he broke the record in 1972.
Earlier this year, Fabian Cancellara said he planned to attempt the record, but that was put on hold after the UCI changed its approach and said that aerodynamic equipment can now be used – a factor in Wiggins’ decision to have a crack at it.
“If I pencil it in, it will be in late June because of the good weather, and it leads on from Paris-Roubaix and the training for that,” he said. “I hope it is there to be broken and that I can pave the way for the next person, whether it’s Fabian or Tony [Martin]. I’d like to rejuvenate it, re-establish a mark for everyone to attempt. You can’t underestimate how hard it is.”
Wiggins is currently negotiating a two-year renewal of his contract with Team Sky – ultimately, he plans to compete in the team pursuit at the Rio Olympics in 2016 – and his potential crack at the Hour record has the backing of team principal Sir Dave Brailsford, who said: “We’d be behind him for sure.
“He ought to try it. For him and his career, at some point, it would be a shame if he didn’t have a crack at it, given the change in the rules and so on. I think he can do it and if you can do something you should have a crack at it.”
Originally, Wiggins had planned to ride part of the Vuelta as preparation for the World Championships, but his programme was changed after Chris Froome decided to target the Spanish race following his early exit from the Tour de France.
“My plan was to do two weeks there like [current world time trial champion] Tony Martin does, but Sky are in the Vuelta to win it now and if they were leading the race and I had to pull out with a week to go, that wouldn’t be right,” Wiggins said.
Last year in Florence, Wiggins finished second to Martin but believes a tougher course in Ponferrada this time round will suit him.
“This year it’s more rolling, and hillier in the finale so I’ll have a better chance,” he explained. “It will be the same four riders again – Fabian Cancellara, Tony [Martin], Chris [Froome] and me – and on any given day it can be any one of us.”
Ahead of that, Wiggins’ absence from the Vuelta means he will defend his overall title at the Tour of Britain which starts on 7 September in Liverpool.
“It will be good to be there with the No 1 on my back, because I didn’t get to do that with some of the other stage races I’ve won,” he reflected – not least the Tour de France, which he hasn’t raced since becoming, in 2012, the first British rider to win it.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.