LONDON (Reuters) - Four-times Olympic champion and former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins is launching his own professional cycling team with the aim of providing more British gold in Rio.
Wiggins, who will continue to ride for Team Sky until April’s Paris Roubaix road classic before concentrating on his own Rio 2016 Olympic preparations, will head up the team comprising of young home-grown riders.
The team, which will operate independently of British Cycling and focus on both road and track disciplines, will be called WIGGINS and will receive financial backing from Sky.
“Cycling has given me everything,” Wiggins said in a statement. “Now I want to build something to inspire kids and to reach all those people who might be on the fringes of the sport. My message is simple: If I can do it, then so can you.”
Wiggins, who in 2012 became the first Briton to win the Tour de France and also won the individual time trial at the London Olympics, will revert to the track in Rio where he will concentrate on the team pursuit.
He will be seeking a British record eighth Olympic medal.
Before that, however, the 34-year-old has his mind set on breaking the Hour record of 51.8km in his own team’s colours.
“I’ve dreamt about the Hour Record since I was a boy,” he said. “Anyone can have a crack at it and measure themselves against the best in the world.”
Team Sky’s general manager Dave Brailsford, the mastermind behind Britain’s rise to cycling eminence, welcomed the announcement.
“Bradley has written one of the greatest stories in British sport over the last 10 years,” he said. “His exciting new project, WIGGINS, will undoubtedly have a lot to offer cycling in the UK on the road to Rio 2016 and beyond.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Justin Palmer