AL WAKRA CORNICHE, Qatar (AFP) — Former Tour de France winner and world time trial champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) is enjoying his final days as a road racer, as the ongoing Tour of Qatar serves as a warmup for a final crack at the Paris-Roubaix.
The cycling icon, who became the first British rider to win the Tour de France in 2012, the same year he won time trial gold at the London Olympics, showed no signs of nostalgia as he winds down his road career with the Sky team.
“I’m happy, it feels a good time to go on to other things. I’ve done everything. I’ve had a lot of my success with this team. And to go out quite high on the top, and world champion,” said the 34-year-old, who will switch back to track cycling later this year.
Wiggins has won 25 of his 37 victories at the heart of the British team while his finest hours remain the Tour de France triumph and Olympic title on his home streets of London in 2012.
The one title missing is the prestigious Paris-Roubaix classic which will serve as his final race with Sky on April 12.
“It’s the last one; it’s the one I did well in last year [finished ninth]; it’s the one I like the most. I’d love to do something there. But everyone does want to win, everyone dreams about it,” Wiggins, who was born in Belgium, told AFP.
The decision to compete at the tough Tour of Qatar and deal with its brutal conditions was part of his preparation plans, but a lowly finish in Monday’s second stage saw a sandstorm relegate Wiggins to 94th on the day and over nine minutes behind Norwegian stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha).
“It’s one of those races it’s horrible to ride, no one really enjoys it. But for the classics, it’s the best preparation for that, because it’s so hard.”
“I’m not overly concerned about that. I’m not going to lose sleep over,” he added after the second stage from Al Wakra to Al Khor Corniche.
“My priority is to stay safe, race hard whenever I can and come out of it in a good shape for the next races.”
Following his final race, Wiggins says he’s looking forward to returning to his love of track cycling.
I’ll do the hour record in June, and then, it’s one year until the Olympics. I like the track. I started racing on the track when I was 12. I spent the first 15 years racing on the track, and then I went to the road.”
The Brit also has the 2016 Rio Olympics in his sights as he looks to add to his six medals and four golds, as well as a crack at the world hour record.
First up however is a tasty 10.9km individual time trial in Tuesday’s third stage where Wiggins will set off as one of the hot favorites.