Wiggo, Cav back but British supremacy faces test

Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:09pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Big guns Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish will bolster the British team for next month's Olympic track cycling program but the powerhouse nation will have its work cut out repeating the supremacy of four years ago in London.

Wiggins, 36, has returned to his track roots and will be a key cog in Britain's team pursuit squad, four years after that glorious summer when he won the Tour de France and the Olympic time trial in a matter of weeks.

He will be bidding for a fifth Olympic gold and fourth on the track after winning the individual pursuit in Athens and team and individual pursuits in Beijing -- before switching his focus to the open road and Tour glory.

Cavendish, meanwhile, has no Olympic medal on his CV -- missing out on the track in 2008 and road race in 2012.

The 31-year-old will arrive in Brazil on a high though after a superb Tour de France in which he won four stages to move his tally to 30, behind only Belgian great Eddy Merckx.

Britain, who won seven of the 10 track titles up for grabs in London, however can no longer call upon it's most successful Olympian Chris Hoy, who has retired as has Victoria Pendleton.

The gap has also closed and Australia, France, the U.S. China, Germany and New Zealand all arrive with medal-hungry squads.

"I think Team GB will be the top nation in the cycling," said Hoy, who won six Olympic golds. "They won't dominate in the same way that we have at the last two Games before Rio 2016 but I am expecting four gold medals and maybe three minor medals."Australia managed only one cycling gold in London and none in Beijing but they look powerful.   Continued...

Britain Cycling - Team GB - Rio 2016 Cycling Team Announcement - The National Cycling Centre, Sportcity, Manchester - 24/6/16
Great Britain's Sir Bradley Wiggins poses
Action Images via Reuters / Ed Sykes