Olympics: Will Wiggins become best Olympic cyclist?

Londoner on track for third gold in Beijing

Olympic pursuit king Bradley Wiggins seems more than ready for the challenge of equalling a 100-year-old British record when he aims for a third gold medal in Tuesday's Madison at the Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing.

But the 27-year-old Londoner hasn't even thought about the fact that in doing so, he will become the most decorated Olympic cyclist ever. Wiggins' bid for a third gold in Beijing could be the hardest he faces during a campaign that has seen him take his gold tally to three for a total of six since his Olympic debut in Sydney.

If Wiggins and Madison partner Mark Cavendish win the Madison, Wiggins will become the first British athlete to win three gold medals at a single Games since swimmer Henry Cotton took triple gold at London Games in 1908.

Minutes later, Wiggins' feat could be quickly emulated by Scotland's Chris Hoy, if he makes it through the final and triumphs. But if Wiggins wins just a medal, it will be his seventh - and allow him to surpass American Burton Downing's all-time Olympic track cycling medal haul of six, all won at the St. Louis Games in 1904.

Already happy to help Britain smash their own world record on their way to Britain's first team pursuit gold in 100 years on Monday, Wiggins will now brush down his Madison bike in a bid for a third.

"At this stage, it's got to be gold," said Wiggins, whose stamina and endurance have been pushed hard in recent days, and will be pushed to another level in the chaotic 50km Madison. "But we'll see, the Madison is the hardest of the lot. You can have a crash early, anything can happen.

"We'll be strong, we're world champions. We just have to play it right and make sure we don't lose a lap early on like we did at the world championships."

It was at the world championships in Manchester that Wiggins last used a Madison bike, as opposed to the speed machines he uses for the pursuit events.

Cavendish arrived a few days ago for his only race at the Olympics. After after a stunning Tour de France campaign, where he made some history by winning four stages, the Manxman is apparently itching to go.

"I haven't even touched my Madison bike since the worlds, so I better get that out of the bag," added Wiggins, who admitted he had less sleep on Sunday night than he would have liked. "Cav woke me up this morning just messing around the apartment and making noise. He's running around like a schoolkid! But he's up for it. We'll have a gameplan going into it, but we'll be ready firing for gold."

Britain's gold medal haul stood at five from seven events and nine from a total of 21 at the close of play on Monday. And Wiggins believes Cavendish's sprint legs and his pursuiting will combine to add more.

"We're doing 70km/h there (in the team pursuit), there's not many people who are going to go faster than that in the Madison," he added. "The training we do for that is all sprint-intensive. It worked at the worlds, and we've never had a problem in the past in Madison."

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008 

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