(AFP) – Bradley Wiggins set a British record of eight Olympic medals as Britain retained the Olympic track cycling team pursuit title in a world record time.
Wiggins with Edward Clancy, Steven Burke and Owain Doull on Friday beat Australia in the final at the Rio velodrome, breaking the world record twice in 90 minutes.
For Wiggins it was also a fifth gold medal, matching British rower Steve Redgrave, but still one behind the six claimed by track sprint star Chris Hoy.
“The first people I bumped into when I came off the track was Steve Redgrave and Chris Hoy, and they’re my heros in Olympic sport,” said Wiggins.
“Just to be in the same breath as those guys is an honour.”
His eighth Olympic medal in his fifth Games took him one clear of the mark he had shared with Hoy as Britain’s most decorated Olympian, though.
He now has team pursuit titles from 2008 and this year, individual pursuit crowns from 2004 and 2008 and his time-trial gold from four years ago.
He also won team pursuit silver and madison bronze in Athens, and team pursuit bronze in Sydney 16 yeas ago.
Wiggins said it would definitely be his last Olympics, although he will race two more road events before retiring: the Tour of Britain and Six Days of Gent.
“I wanted to go out like this, I wanted it to end like this and not some crappy little race in the north of France — Paris-Tours in the rain, climbing off at the feed,” said Wiggins.
“Gent Six Days, which is where I wanted to end it — my first memory as a child is being there with my dad when he was racing it.
“The place hasn’t changed and it will be a nice end to my career, back where I was born, where it all started.”
– ‘It’s massive’ –
Clancy matched the feat of American time-trial champion Kristin Armstrong who on Wednesday became the first cyclist to win a third Olympic gold medal in the same event.
Burke won his second gold but Doull was competing in his first Games.
“It’s massive, you look up the track and you’ve Brad in four and you look down the track and you’ve got Ed, the most successful Olympic pursuiter in the history of the world,” Doull enthused.
“It gives you such confidence having that team around you, especially as a younger athlete in my first Games.”
Denmark beat New Zealand to take the bronze medal.
Britain set the previous record of 3min 51.659sec for the 4km race four years ago in winning Olympic gold in London, again beating Australia in the final.
Clancy and Burke were part of that team alongside Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh, while Wiggins was winning time-trial gold on the road, just a month on from making history as the first British man to win the Tour de France.
The quartet broke the record in the semi-final with a time of 3:50.570, almost three seconds quicker than Australia’s foursome of Alexander Edmondson, Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn and Sam Welsford went in their semi-final.
Australia gambled in the final, setting out at breakneck pace.
“We saw in the first couple of rounds how quick GB were,” said Hepburn.
“We knew going into that race we had a small chance. We decided we’ll just go full from the line, ride a fast schedule, put them under pressure and hopefully we can hold on.”
They were up by almost seven tenths of a second at the halfway point and Britain only went in front 500m from the finish.
But once they crossed the line, they had set a new world record of 3:50.265 and were three quarters of a second clear.