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Bradley Wiggins’ Hour Record – commentary

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Photographs: Simon Wilkinson - SWpix.com

He came, he saw, he conquered.
He namechecked the Eastway and recalled a conversation from earlier in the day with his barber.
“The bloke said, ‘What are you up to today?’ I said, ‘Not much.’”
The glib #MyHour hashtag proved appropriate. This was very much The Hour done Wiggins’ way. His shoes and helmet were gold. His bike was pure white. Bowie’s Sound and Vision played as he made his exit.
He started early, catching out the broadcasters who had cut to adverts and therefore missed the all-important countdown: one of the few moments in an Hour Record attempt that doesn’t involve lapping the track. #My59minutes.
The official mark was 54.526 and so a comprehensive defeat of the previous record: the distance of 52.937 ridden by Alex Dowsett last month. But it was not the targeted 55.5km, a shortfall largely accounted for by a less than ideal atmospheric pressure. Still, it will give impetus to the mercurial Dowsett, who could certainly have ridden further in Manchester.
Wiggins was sanguine. “I always compare myself to the greats. I’m just glad to be in the company of those guys: Miguel [Indurain], [Tony] Rominger, Chris [Boardman]. Just to get up there and put yourself on the line takes a lot of courage. It’s a mental thing more than anything.”
Indurain, his childhood hero and Hour Record holder in 1994, was in attendance. So too, improbably, was Johan Bruyneel, banned from sport for 10 years by the American Arbitration Association in February.
This was Wiggins’ return to Lea Valley after watching the track events at London 2012 unfold from the stands. It was his house tonight: a chance to correct a minor quirk of fate that saw him win gold in the road time-trial at London 2012.
Wiggins will seek further glories on the track next year in Rio. He will be 37 when the 31st Olympiad opens, and should he close his career with gold in the team pursuit, it will be a fitting end.
In 2013, Wiggins’ annus horribilis, his failure at the Giro and Chris Froome’s success at the Tour briefly cast him in the unflattering light of inferior Grand Tour rider to Sky’s new leader. Subsequent events – two impressive rides at Paris-Roubaix, a world time-trial championship, and now an Hour Record – have confirmed that his is a far broader talent.
Tonight, Wiggins will relax with his family; more than likely with a beer or two. “I’m just glad it’s done,” he shrugged. “That’s the closest I’ll ever get to knowing what it’s like to have a baby.”
Pregnancy might be beyond Wiggins, even if not much that involves riding a bicycle appears to be. Tonight was another “Where were you when…” moment; one to place alongside those two victories in the summer of 2012. He may yet provide another in Rio.

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