Wiggins leaves hour record for others to break

The Englishman registered a new mark of 54.526km in a London velodrome Sunday

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MILAN (VN) — Bradley Wiggins posted a distance of 54.526 kilometers Sunday in London’s Lee Valley velodrome, celebrated, and then walked away. He left the UCI Hour Record, set amid the roar of 6,000 fans packed around the Olympic track, behind for someone else to break.

The 35-year-old Englishman will now turn his attention to the 2016 Olympics, which are just over a year away in Rio de Janeiro. Wiggins hopes to make the four-man pursuit team and win a second gold medal in the event.

Wiggins had hoped to reach 55km or higher in London, but with pursuit preparations ahead and retirement after Rio, he has no time left for another attempt at the hour record. His 54.526km mark is left for other people to reach.

“Can anyone break it? I don’t know,” Wiggins said in the track infield following his ride.

“Obviously, that’s raised the bar a fair bit to what the existing record was. For sure it will deter people or make them think twice about it because it’s been a bit of a rush up until now for people to have a go at it. It’s the first big marker now.”

Since cycling’s governing body, the UCI, modified the rules in May 2014, several cyclists had a go at the record. German Jens Voigt set a new record as his last professional ride before retiring. Mostly young riders followed, including record rides by Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), and the last before Wiggins, Alex Dowsett (Movistar).

Englishman Dowsett posted a mark of 52.937km. Wiggins went 1,589 meters further. The “big marker” could stand for years.

Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) talked about the record, but after breaking his leg last year, he had to put everything on hold. Swiss Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and German Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) also wanted to try it, but they could be deterred by Wiggins’ mark, given they are nowhere near as experienced on the track as Wiggins is.

Cycling may now see a lull in record rides. The period could prove to be as quiet as the 14 years between Fausto Coppi’s and Jacques Anquetil’s records. Several years may pass, like the eight years it took until Ferdi Bracke came along to beat Roger Rivière’s record, or the 12 years after Eddy Merckx’s ride.

Wiggins believes he could have gone further, too. Had the air pressure been lower, he could have reached around 55.200.

“It was probably the worst weekend to have done it in the last couple of months,” he said. “It was perhaps not as far as I had dreamed or hoped, but I’m satisfied nonetheless.”

Wiggins hugged his wife and children after his ride. He left with them to travel home, just a short drive from the velodrome. He had never experienced a track ride like that in front of a huge crowd. Only his 2012 time trial Olympic gold medal ride, on the road in London’s center, came close. He will not look back, though.

He said, “I don’t think so.”

Wiggins, charismatic like few others in cycling, changed into a team Molteni jersey like the one Eddy Merckx wore to set his 1972 record. He signed autographs outside the velodrome where — after the Tour de France title, four Olympic gold medals, and the time trial world title — he had left yet another mark in cycling in his own style.

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