ON THE day Sir Bradley Wiggins revealed he will not compete in the cycling road events he delivered a withering critique of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome – a structure he believes does not do sufficient justice to the man it is named after.
Asked for his first impressions of the venue, a wilfully off-message Wiggins said: “I’d be a bit p***** off if I were him because they’ve stuck a great big ‘Emirates’ sign over his name and it doesn’t stand out that it’s the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, other than a little thing as you walk in. It’s more like a shopping centre sign with an Emirates thing on it.
“I think there should be more made for him – stick a whopping great statue outside because it doesn’t hit you straight away that it’s his velodrome.
“I think he got done over a bit. But he won’t complain because he’s far too nice. So I’ll complain for him. They should do something about it.”
Wiggins may now have decided to race only one of a possible four events at Glasgow 2014, but he insists the Commonwealth Games – and riding for Team England – is a big deal.
Wiggins has ascended to the A-list of sporting superstars since he last graced the Commonwealths in 2002, picking up four Olympic gold medals and winning the 2012 Tour de France. But the controversial decision by Team Sky to stand him down from this year’s Tour, combined with a desire to return to the track at the Rio 2016 Olympics, means Wiggins has been fully focused on the velodrome in recent months.
He had initially been mulling over a combined programme of track and road, with the team pursuit, individual pursuit, time-trial and road race all options for him. But he will only contest the team pursuit in Glasgow, in a bid to prevent spreading himself too thinly. “The plan was to come in and do pretty much most of the events, but with hindsight, I thought just focus on the Olympic event rather than try to be too greedy,” he said.
“The initial thing, having been away [from the track] for so long, was whether I could still do it straight away. The initial signs were really good and since then I’ve just been focusing on the team pursuit,” he said.
“I dropped everything else. All the training’s been geared up to the team pursuit and trying to break back into that. It’s the only Olympic event really that’s available to me now, because the individual pursuit has gone.
“I thought I’d put all my eggs into the one I’m going to try and do for the next two years.”
Wiggins explained he had never seriously entertained the idea of combining track and road events having thrown himself firmly into training alongside the National Cycling Centre in Manchester.
“The training for the last four to five weeks has been so concentrated on the track and I don’t think I could have done much on the roads,” he said. “It’s one of those ones. It’s one or the other, don’t underestimate the event and try to do everything or be greedy and thinking you could win everything.”
With Team Great Britain so dominant in the world of track cycling, the splitting of the group into distinct national teams makes for an interesting dynamic in the coming week but Wiggins, for one, is embracing the chance to represent his own country.
“The Commonwealth Games is a fantastic event in its own right,” he added.
“Some people put the Commonwealth Games down but you’re still representing your country. It’s very rare you get to wear an England kit on the track or put on an England tracksuit unless you are an England footballer or a cricket player.
“It’s almost become a bit politically correct, you’re not really allowed to support England now so it’s kind of nice that we can fly that flag and get up and compete for England.”