Great Britain last night won men’s team pursuit gold – giving Sir Bradley Wiggins a fifth Olympic gold and a British record eighth medal in all.
Britain’s Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Owain Doull and Wiggins bettered their own world record in the four-man, four-kilometres event - set in the first round 80 minutes earlier - to win gold in three minutes 50.265 seconds.
Australia advanced to the final while keeping Jack Bobridge in reserve, having so far not shown their full hand and led until two laps to go when an almighty roar erupted with Britain edging in front for the first time.
With Burke already dropped, Wiggins dragged Clancy and Doull to the line to win by 0.743secs as Australia, with Bobridge dropped inside 3km, second in 3mins 51.008secs.
Wiggins surpassed fellow cyclist Sir Chris Hoy’s cumulative total of seven Olympic medals and joined rower Sir Steve Redgrave on five golds.
“It was never about that for me,” said Wiggins, who now has five gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
“The first people I bumped into when I came off the track were Steve Redgrave and Chris Hoy. They’re my heroes in Olympic sport.
“Just to be in the same breath as those guys is an honour. It was more about personally what it meant to me.
“I take myself to Sydney in 2000 and what that meant to me as a 20-year-old kid wandering round there, watching Steve win his fifth gold there and thinking how incredible and amazing it was.
“I’d come away with a bronze medal there and thought that’s it. If I have to go to the job centre on Monday morning and get a job, I can always say I’ve got Olympic bronze.
“To be here 16 years on, with five gold medals to myself, I never imagined that for one minute. It’s just something to tell the kids about when they’re older.”
Wiggins stuck his tongue out on the podium - directed at children Ben and Bella - after greeting wife Cath and later paid tribute to his team-mates.
Britain’s first Tour de France champion was nostalgic and on Thursday watched Chris Boardman’s individual pursuit win from Barcelona 1992, a moment which inspired him to embark on his own career.
“I remember being 12 listening to that, thinking ‘God I’d love to do that one day’,” Wiggins said.
“I’m happy and content with what I’ve done now. I like the diversity of what I’ve done
“I’m not going to Tokyo. I’d love to, but I wanted to finish on a high.”
Hoy hails fellow knight
Sir Bradley Wiggins was already assured of his place in history before claiming a British record eighth Olympic medal in Rio, according to Sir Chris Hoy.
The pair were level on seven apiece after London 2012, Hoy’s swansong, but now Wiggins is out on his own after his victory in the men’s team pursuit. Wiggins has only equalled Hoy’s total in track cycling, though, and what sets them apart is the former’s feats on the road, where he won the Tour de France and an Olympic time trial within the space of a few days four years ago.
Hoy said: “I don’t think winning a medal of any colour at the Rio Olympics changes anything for Bradley. His results speak for themselves.
“What he has achieved over the years in cycling across all disciplines - before he even got to the Games - is unrivalled.
“It’s great to see him back on the track where his career started, and clearly enjoying it.”
He added on Twitter: “Wow!! That was one hell of a night in the velodrome!”
Mark Cavendish moved to allay any rumours of a rift between himself and Wiggins by tweeting his congratulations to the 36-year-old, Clancy, Burke and Doull.
The Manxman suggested earlier this week that he had been frozen out of the team pursuit by Wiggins, whom he alleged was “super stressed”.
But Cavendish said on Twitter: “Think I’ll need my ear plugs to sleep tonight! Some ride that boys! @OfficialWIGGINS @Ed_Clancy @StevenBurke88 @owaindoull @TeamGB. Proud.”
Ed Clancy was overwhelmed by a third successive Olympic team pursuit gold medal, just months after a back injury which left him fearing for his career.
The 31-year-old Yorkshireman had surgery last December after sustaining a back problem picking up his training bag at the Manchester Velodrome.
Clancy returned for the Track World Championships in March at less than full throttle but still powered through to a third Olympic gold following wins in the same event at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
“I’ve never been so emotional crossing the line. I was in tears,” said Clancy, a key figure in a line-up which included Sir Bradley Wiggins, Steven Burke and Owain Doull.
“It was the happiest moment of my life. We’ve been in that position in a final against the Australians so many times and so many times in the last four years they’ve put us away.
“It was 3 December, I woke up from surgery and 5 December there was a World Cup in New Zealand. The Aussies did a (three minutes) 53 (seconds).
“You never give up hope, but it seemed like a pretty far-fetched dream to be stood up here.”
Clancy, a bronze medallist in the omnium at London 2012, had to be driven to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester lying flat on his back in a van in late December as he could not sit upright in a chair and he went hill walking for fitness.
Now he wants to go for another gold at the Tokyo Games in four years’ time.
Clancy, who won omnium bronze at London 2012, added: “I’ll give it a go. That’s always been the plan. I’ll be 35 by then (Tokyo) and if I can get four medals out of this team pursuit career, I’ll call it a day then.”
Burke, who won a second straight team pursuit title, also intends to ride on to Japan.
“All the hard work has paid off and I’m glad we’ve got the job done,” said Burke, who won individual pursuit bronze in Beijing behind Wiggins.
“(It is) extra special compared to London, because it’s not many who defend an Olympic title.
“I’m glad I’ve won two on the bounce and I’m hoping to do another Olympics in Tokyo and go for a third medal.”
Burke swung off with two laps to go, once Britain had edged into the lead, and Doull did not realise. The 23-year-old from Cardiff had to dig deep to keep pace as Wiggins towed Clancy towards the line.
“It was a scrappy one,” Doull said.
“I changed and hadn’t heard a shout for three (riders). I changed expecting four guys and turned down and there were two.
“I was down the track, giving everything trying to get back on that wheel.
“I just thought I could never forgive myself if I didn’t get on and it cost us the win.
“It means everything. I put four years of my life towards it. To be so close at previous World Championships and losing both times, to finally pull it off is massive.”
Jason Kenny earlier made a fine start in his bid to join Wiggins on five gold medals.
The defending champion qualified fastest in the sprint and Callum Skinner, with whom Kenny won team sprint gold on day one, was second fastest.
Kenny will meet Fabian Puerta of Colombia in the second round and Skinner will meet Australia’s Patrick Constable.
The team pursuit win means Britain have two victories from two events entered in the velodrome - they did not qualify in the women’s team sprint, won by China - and further success could follow on today in the women’s team pursuit.
Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell-Shand, Elinor Barker and Scotland’s Katie Archibald qualified fastest for the first round in a world record.