Sir Chris Hoy has backed Sir Bradley Wiggins to become Britain’s most prolific Olympian at the Rio Games.
Wiggins will eclipse Hoy’s seven medals and pull clear of Sir Steve Redgrave, who has six, if he reaches the podium of the team pursuit in Brazil later this summer.
The 35-year-old, who is set to compete in his final Olympics before bringing down the curtain on his incredible career, said recently that his focus was not on the medal record, and does not believe he is in the same league as Hoy, a winner of six golds, and Redgrave, who has five.
But Hoy, who retired from cycling shortly after his heroics at the 2012 Olympics, told Press Association Sport: “I think he plays it down, but he will take huge pride winning five gold medals and to have more total medals than anybody else.
“He collects records left, right and centre and even without the Olympics he is the greatest cyclist Britain has ever produced.
“He does not have to win a medal to do that because no-one has done what he has done across the board – to win the Tour de France, to hold the one-hour world record, and to be a multiple world and Olympic champion across disciplines – there is no-one even close to that.
“When he puts his mind to something, you wouldn’t bet against him achieving it. I know it is a team event so he hasn’t got control of the end result but he will make it happen, no doubt about it.”
Wiggins, Britain’s first winner of the Tour de France, is preparing for his fifth Olympics – a remarkable journey which began at the Sydney Games in 2000.
There he won bronze in the team pursuit with track golds in Athens and Beijing to follow before he won the road time trial at his home Olympics in London four years ago.
The Briton has also claimed seven world titles, but Hoy does not believe motivation will be a factor for his compatriot ahead of this summer’s Games.
“He must enjoy it as he doesn’t have to keep riding his bike,” added Hoy, who was speaking at the launch of his children’s book series, Flying Fergus.
“He could have retired after London or after winning the Tour. He could have said, ‘that is it for me, I have achieved everything’ – and more than he or anyone could have imagined.
“But Bradley is a cycling fan, an anorak, and he has huge amounts of memorabilia at his home – you ask him who won the Tour in 1970 and he will tell you. He does it because he loves it.”
Britain’s cycling team won seven gold medals in London and in Beijing, but Hoy reckons three should be a realistic target for them this summer.
The Scot added: “You aim for ten golds and they will be doing everything they can to achieve that, but if we could achieve a 30 per cent success rate you would be happy.
“You look at swimming, where they have 36 medals on offer, and if you were to say we are going to win 12 golds, you would say that is incredible.
“Whereas in cycling if we win three golds out of ten, some people would say, ‘well that is not as good as the seven last time’.
“But if we win gold in the men’s and women’s team pursuit, and the women’s omnium, that would be a fantastic result.”