A PERFECTLY-PACED ride earned Sir Bradley Wiggins victory in the men’s time trial at the Road World Championships in Spain.
The Olympic champion clocked 56 minutes 25.52 seconds for the 47.1-kilometre route in Ponferrada to win by an emphatic margin of 26.23secs.
Germany’s Tony Martin, seeking a fourth straight world title, had to settle for silver in 56mins 51.75secs, while Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands finished in 57:06.16 to take bronze. Commonwealth Games champion Alex Dowsett of Britain was 20th in 59:00.62.
It was Britain’s first gold in the event in 20 years, since Chris Boardman won the inaugural edition of the road time-trial.
“I paced it perfectly,” said Wiggins. “I still had gas in the final. Even on the last descent, I knew I was ahead, but I was pushing all the way.
“I don’t know what to say. I knew coming into it that I had the legs. Once I saw the course I knew if I was ever going to beat Tony it would be here.”
The 2012 Tour de France champion is a multiple world champion on the track but now has his first world title on the road.
Wiggins plans to return to the track for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and vowed this would be his last Road World Championships – and he signed off with victory.
Wiggins was second to Martin in 2011 and 2013, but overturned the German in winning the Olympic title at Hampton Court in 2012. The 34-year-old Londoner was second to Martin at the first time-check, but then moved ahead by two seconds and then by more than nine seconds at the third time-check.
Wiggins crossed the line well clear of the rest of the field and with Martin the only man remaining on the course and the only man who could beat him.
And Wiggins put his thumb up when he learned Martin had been unable to surpass his performance.
Boardman won the first time-trial title in 1994, but Britain has had to settle for minor podium places since.
David Millar, who was stripped of the 2003 world time-trial title, is the captain of Britain’s team for the men’s road race on Sunday.
Wiggins has had a challenging year, missing out on Team Sky selection for the Tour de France, which began in Yorkshire, despite having placed an impressive ninth in Paris-Roubaix in April, won the Tour of California in May and the British Championships time-trial in June.
“It’s been an up and down year,” added Wiggins, who won the time-trial at the Tour of Britain earlier this month.
“I want to dedicate this to my family. My wife and children were there for me all summer and had to put up with me during (the Tour de France in) July.”
Wiggins refocused for the team pursuit at Glasgow 2014, but England had to settle for silver behind the Australian quartet. Commonwealth Games gold is one of the few titles to prove elusive to a rider six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy and Boardman have lauded as the most complete cyclist Britain has ever produced.
Whenever Wiggins has a target – as Ponferrada was – he invariably achieves it and now he has another rainbow jersey following six in the velodrome.
Wiggins has also announced his intention to ride for the Hour Record in 2015. “That’s the next thing now,” he added.
“Just to add the world title to the British title and the Olympic title, I’ve got the set. Very Good. Along with the pursuit world titles it’s fantastic.”
Last week, German Jens Voigt beat the previous one-hour mark set by Czech Ondrej Sosenka in 2005 as the first rider to make an attempt under new rules set by the International Cycling Union (UCI). Voigt’s record of 51.115 km followed a revision by the UCI of the rules, introduced in 2000, governing equipment used in the celebrated competition.
“I want to have a go at the one hour record next year after what Jens [Voigt] did last week,” Wiggins told the BBC.
“I was a bit surprised by Jens’s decision to do it but what he did was fantastic and fully deserved. I could just go and do it next week but, if I do it, I’ll only do it once.”
Wiggins is highly likely to smash Voigt’s mark when he takes to the track in June 2015.
“I want to prepare for it properly,” said Wiggins, “It will give me something to get out of bed for in the winter.”