Sir Bradley Wiggins has said he is aiming for a sixth Olympic gold medal at Tokyo in 2020 – but in a boat rather than on a bike after developing a new passion for rowing.
The Daily Mail reports that the 37-year-old plans to compete at the British Indoor Rowing Championships in December.
He is being coached by James Cracknell, winner of gold medals in the coxless fours in 2000 in Sydney and four years later in Athens – where Wiggins made his Olympic debut.
Speaking at a corporate event in Manchester yesterday evening, Wiggins said: “I took up rowing when I retired just to keep fit, but my numbers started getting quite good so I've started taking it up professionally now and getting coached seven days a week.
“I'm doing the British Championships in December, and I'm going to see how far I can take it, maybe a sixth Olympic gold?”
Wiggins, who acquired the nickname ‘Twiggo’ after shedding weight ahead of his 2012 Tour de France victory, acknowledged that he’ll have to build muscle mass to be in with a chance.
“I'm trying to get to 100 kilos, so I'd be 31 kilos heavier than when I went on Tour,” he explained.
“At the moment I feel great - my suit's a bit tight. It's a three-piece but I couldn't get the waistcoat on!”
Wiggins spoke about the possibility of switching sports in his 2012 Autobiography, My Time, where he wrote: “I would love to try to be a rower at the next Olympics, in a lightweight four or something.
“It would be impossible to do: go down, lock, stock and barrel, live in Henley, train and try and be at the next Olympics in a rowing boat.
“Imagine that, going and winning the coxless four: Olympic gold in rowing, four years off. Unfortunately there is no way I could do it.”
When rumours began circulating about Wiggins’ new sporting passion last month, British Rowing performance director Sir David Tanner said: “I haven’t heard that one.
“He’s not the biggest of guys, so I’d guess if he did want to do rowing he’d want to be a lightweight, for which we only have two places these days."
The weight limit for men in lightweight crews is 72.5 kilograms, so by building up his bulk, Wiggins could give himself more options in open weight events.
Wiggins retired from cycling at the end of last year, five months after winning gold in the team pursuit at Rio.
Since then, however, his use of medicines under therapeutic use exemptions has come under scrutiny after the information was made public by computer hackers, and he has also been in the spotlight as a result of the mystery medical package delivered to Team Sky for him at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.
Few athletes are good enough in two different sports to compete in both at Olympic level, and fewer still have medals in more than one.
Someone who has is British rower turned cyclist Rebecca Romero.
She won the individual pursuit at Beijing in 2008 (where Wiggins won the men's event), four years after taking silver in the quadruple sculls in Athens.
sculls in Athens.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.