Sir Bradley Wiggins believes that Geraint Thomas could break the UCI Hour Record “tomorrow” if he set his mind to it – but has ruled out trying to reclaim the record himself.
The distance of 54.526 kilometres that Wiggins set in June 2015 at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark was beaten last week in Aguascalientes, Mexico, by the Belgian rider Victor Campenaerts, who set a new record of 55.089 kilometres.
Speaking on his Eurosport podcast, Wiggins turned his thoughts to who among current riders could have a crack at the record next.
Reflecting on now being on a list of past riders to have held the record including Miguel Indurain and Jacques Anquetil, Wiggins said: “It has to move on. Records have to be broken.
“I hope someone has the balls to get up and have a go themselves now.”
Asked who he thought might break the new record, Wiggins immediately replied: “G [Thomas] could do it tomorrow, I think. Absolutely, with his track craft.”
He and Thomas were both members of the quartet that won Olympic team pursuit gold at Beijing in 2008 – a title the Welshman helped Team GB successfully defend in London four years later where Wiggins, fresh from his Tour de France victory, kept to the road and won the individual time trial.
Thomas is the current British national time trial champion, and among other names Wiggins threw into the ring were the 2017 world champion in the discipline, Tom Dumoulin, and his successor in the rainbow jersey, Rohan Dennis, who briefly held the Hour record in 2015 until it was beaten by Alex Dowsett.
Wiggins’ own successful attempt on the Hour Record came two months after his final race for Team Sky, Paris-Roubaix.
A club 10 in Hull apart, the only road race he took part in during the intervening period was the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire for his own Team Wiggins – a race in which he would acknowledge, to borrow a phrase from cricket, he didn’t unduly trouble the scorers.
Dowsett, whose record he took, and Campenaerts both had the full support of their respective Movistar and Lotto-Soudal teams and trained specifically for it over several months.
Wiggins pointed out Thomas and Dumoulin, with their teams’ Grand Tour focus, might not have the same leeway.
“Whether they’ve got the time to invest the time that Victor invested in it in order to maybe fail … There’s no real rewards for the Hour, is there? You don’t get a pay rise, you don’t get anything for it, do you?”
“You get a Tissot watch from the UCI, don’t you, if you do it?” interjected Adam Blythe, this week’s guest on The Bradley Wiggins Show.
“You get nothing,” Wiggins replied. “It’s like a knighthood, you get sod all.”
Returning to the theme of who could have a tilt at Campenaerts record, Wiggins stuck to his initial gut feeling.
“I think it’s made for Geraint,” he said. “Geraint in Tour form last year.”
While Wiggins rode his Hour at sea level in London, Campenaerts effort last week took place at an altitude of 1,830 metres.
Phoning into the show, the Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten, who topped the UCI Women’s WorldTour rankings last year and successfully defended her world time trial title, asked if “there was maybe one split second that he [Wiggins] was thinking about doing it again to get the record back?”
Wiggins replied: “Of course. It came to me yesterday when I was on my bike. I started, you know … but you’ve got to let it go.”
He added: “It would be like putting Lennox Lewis in the ring with AJ” – comparing his attempting to take the Hour back to a boxing match between the last undisputed world heavyweight champion, now aged 53, with Anthony Joshua, who currently holds three of the four major heavyweight championships and who is aged 29.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.