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Bradley Wiggins looking to carry superb Tour de France form into Olympic time trial

07/31/2012 09:36 EDT | Updated 09/30/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - Bradley Wiggins is unbeaten in long time trials this season, and doesn't see any reason to believe things will be any different at the Olympics.

The lanky cyclist became the first British rider to win the Tour de France earlier this month and is now relishing the prospect of winning a fourth Olympic gold medal in Wednesday's 44-kilometre race against the clock. He has three previous golds in track cycling and says "confidence is sky high" going into the time trial.

Since pulling out of the 2011 Tour de France with a broken collarbone, Wiggins has been nearly invincible. This season, he achieved an unprecedented run of successes in some of the most prestigious stage races, with victories in Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, the Criterium du Dauphine and his triumph on the Tour. His time trial abilities have been key to every victory.

"Confidence is sky high that we're going to be in the ballpark," the 32-year-old Londoner told a press conference.

The Olympic time trial course starts and finishes at Hampton Court Palace in southwest London. Mainly flat, it features some technical sections and looks tailor-made for Wiggins.

Like Miguel Indurain in the early nineties, Wiggins built his Tour success on his time trial abilities. After finishing second in the opening prologue, he defeated all his rivals in the first time trial before stamping his authority on the race in the penultimate stage, a 53.5-kilometre race where he took more than one minute off runner-up Christopher Froome.

"The benchmark is there really from Saturday in Chartres (in the Tour de France)," Wiggins said. "So nothing is going to change from that performance to Wednesday."

Wiggins, who won silver at the world championships last year behind German Tony Martin, turned his back on track after the 2008 Olympics to focus on road racing.

While improving his climbing abilities to be able to tackle big mountain passes, Wiggins kept intact his time trial natural talent.

British team director of performance, Dave Brailsford, said Wiggins' final time trial in the Tour was the best he ever saw.

Although the British team failed to deliver ace sprinter Mark Cavendish to gold in the road race, Wiggins showed his Tour grueling efforts did not take their toll on him. He spent most of the 240 kilometres of the race in front of the peloton in support of Cavendish, taking long turns and stepping up the pace on every occasion.

Since winning the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysees, Wiggins has kept a healthy regimen and put all kind of celebrations on hold.

"I feel a lot better than I normally do when I finish the Tour de France because with the Olympics we've had to keep going: riding the bike, still watching what you're eating, not drinking," he said.

Wiggins has no doubt about his fitness and is convinced that all he needs to do to be ready on the time trial starting ramp is to keep his head cool.

"I have 100 per cent faith in the training (coach) Tim Kerrison has set me and it is more mental than physical," Wiggins said. "I think that I have done enough now to realize that there is no reason it is suddenly all going to collapse on Tuesday night. My performances all year have been consistent so I have no reason to think that is going to change so that comes with age and experience."

Wiggins won his three Olympic titles in Athens and Beijing — in individual and team pursuit — and has a total of six Olympic medals. If he finishes on the podium, he will hold one more medal than British former rowing great Steve Redgrave, who has five golds and a bronze.

"Brad against the world when they're all on their own, he can wrap that up," Wiggins' teammate David Millar said. "He's got such incredible form and he's in such good spirits. I think we'll get our gold medal there."

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