Sir Chris Hoy believes Sir Bradley Wiggins can be the catalyst that drives Great Britain’s men to team pursuit glory at Rio 2016.
It has been a tough time for Britain’s cyclists of late.
A series of limp performances at the World Track Championships in Paris saw them finish without a gold medal for the first time since 2001 – the men’s pursuiters only good enough for silver in France.
That was in stark contrast to the dominant performances of London 2012 which saw the Brits dominate the track with 12 medals – eight of which were gold.
But the loss of Victoria Pendleton and Hoy has been a major dent in the amount of experience running through the British setup.
But the return of Chorley ace Wiggins to the fold for next summer’s Olympic Games could prove pivotal according to Hoy, who thinks he could make the difference between winning and losing.
“The World Championships in Paris was disappointing, there’s no way you can spin it to make it sound like a success, as a team it wasn’t,” said Hoy.
He was speaking at the SSE Arena at Wembley, where Hoy is a mentor for SSE’s Next Generation programme, which provides vital financial and development support to 100 young athletes from across the UK and Ireland. “Bradley still has to come back into the team pursuit though and his presence will be crucial for their success.
“He’s an iconic leader and other nations look to him as this global cycling megastar and when he’s in the track centre everybody’s focusing on him.
“So it takes the pressure and spotlight off some of the other riders who don’t particularly enjoy that attention. He’s invaluable for the team as a whole. The Men’s Team Pursuit is not going to Rio to finish fourth, they’re there to medal and if you’re in shape for a medal then you can win a gold medal.”
With the likes of Australia and New Zealand vying for gold in Brazil Shane Sutton’s men will be up against it if they are to retain their crown.
But Hoy is adamant that Wiggins’ presence can make all the difference.
“It’s so close at the top and the times are getting faster and faster but you’ve seen the progress that can be made in 12 months and it’s a young team that’s hungry for success,” he added.
“And Bradley’s experience and presence will put them up there with Australia, New Zealand and Denmark and pushing for medals and there’s no reason why that can’t be gold.
“In cycling, unless it’s a gold medal, it’s seen as being a massive failure.
“I don’t think we’ll have another Beijing or London but I don’t think that’s a massive surprise or disappointment, I still think we have a successful Games in Rio but with less medals than previous Games.”
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