Silver for Wiggins on track return

  • Last Updated: July 24 2014, 21:09 BST

Sir Bradley Wiggins was denied a golden return to track cycling as he and England's pursuit team were beaten by a rampant Australia in the Commonwealth Games - and afterwards appeared to call time on his Grand Tour career.

  • Sir Bradley Wiggins and his team had to settle for silver
  • Varnish won a bronze medal for England 

Wiggins, riding just his second major track meeting since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, led Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Andy Tennant in the team pursuit to finish second for England behind a dominant Australian quartet.

It may not have been the golden return he - and the unflinchingly supportive Glaswegian crowd - were dreaming of when he decided to make his return to the Commonwealths 12 years after his last appearance in Manchester, but his impressive comeback showing was enough to spike his desire to go one better at Rio 2016.

The 2012 Tour de France winner was a controversial omission from Team Sky's squad this year, but had previously indicated willingness to ride at the Vuelta a Espana, a race his rival and fellow Tour winner Chris Froome will now target.

Wiggins had been considering a new one-year deal that would likely have seen him target one-off events such as Paris-Roubaix or the Hour Record, while also being on hand to Team Sky as a support rider.

But, speaking moments after laying hands on his fourth Commonwealth silver medal, Wiggins indicated a shift in priorities that could see him focus exclusively on the team pursuit and a fifth Olympic gold.

"I certainly answered the question of whether I can still do it or not but I still think it will take a lot more improvement and a lot more dedication," he said.

"I don't think I'm doing the Vuelta any more now so I think that could be it, yeah.

"I just think with the commitment it will take to ride track and the speeds we will have to go at, I think it will take a complete change.

"You're already looking at changing body composition and things like that - getting heavier and more explosive - which will hinder climbing in Grand Tours. And I don't relish the idea of riding round in the back group for three weeks having won the Tour.

"I think 3minutes 50seconds will probably be the mark (for team pursuit gold at Rio), if you look at the progression of previous Olympic Games, so it's almost going to become a sprint endurance event now. It's completely different and I don't think the (track) will necessarily complement the Grand Tour races."

Wiggins, Clancy, Burke and Tennant came in over five seconds behind Australian rivals Jack Bobridge, Luke Davison, Alex Edmondson and Glenn O'Shea - the victors coming home in 3mins 54.851secs.

It was a fine showing, but still well adrift of the world record 3:51.659 Team GB set at London 2012, a race Burke and Clancy took part in.

As such, a newly focused Wiggins is confident about how far the team still have to come in the next two years, even cracking a joke about the England football team's World Cup exit in despatches.

"I don't want to sound like Roy Hodgson but we definitely got some positives out of it," he said.

"We're disappointed but in hindsight we have to look at the next two years and Rio's the goal.

"I want to work back from that and I think it takes four people to be on par, but I think we've all had different preparations this year.

"We've got our work cut out and we've got to pick our standard up again but we've been in that position before and it's not a bad position to be in.

"We've got a silver after four weeks together...we can definitely get stronger.

"It's like being a kid again really, I've really enjoyed it. I've enjoyed the atmosphere and intensity of it - it's over in four minutes but I've really enjoyed it."

There was a second helping of silver as Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Kian Emadi were defeated by New Zealand's Sam Webster, Ed Dawkins and Ethan Mitchell in the men's team sprint.

England's Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Kian Amadi claimed silver in the men's team sprint as New Zealand proved too fast.

Kenny may be a triple Olympic champion and won the two-man team sprint alongside Hindes at London 2012, but neither they nor rookie Amadi had an answer for the Kiwi trio of Ed Dawkins, Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell.

Dawkins led New Zealand in 0.525 ahead of Amadi after three laps, going one better than their silver in Delhi four years ago.

Kenny is not at the peak of his powers currently and, while he is relatively content to have claimed second place ahead of a competitive Australian outfit who were edged into bronze, he knows improvements must happen quickly on the the way to Rio 2016.

"I am happy with silver, certainly I would have been if you'd asked me before, but when you make the final you always want to win," he said.

"But there's not many rides between now and Rio - only about eight team sprints in international competition - so we need to start getting it right and getting it together."

Kenny has a chance to impress again in Friday's individual sprint after squeezing through the repechage.

He finished a disappointing 11th in qualifying, easily outpaced by his Australasian rivals, and then lost his first-round ride against Dawkins.

He is joined by Matt Crampton in the quarter-finals, also via repechage, but there was no joy for Scottish trio Callum Skinner, John Paul and Chris Pritchard, or Welsh hope Lewis Oliva.

Jessica Varnish had earlier claimed England's first track medal of the Games, picking up bronze behind record-breaking Australian Anna Meares and her compatriot Stephanie Morton in the 500m time-trial.

Meares was unstoppable as she broke her own Commonwealth record of 33.345s, equalling Bradley McGee's Games record of five gold medals in track cycling and becoming the first athlete to win medals at four different editions.

For Varnish, who came in at 34.267, it was a moment to savour following her disqualification alongside Victoria Pendleton at London 2012 - a ruling that left her as the only Team GB cyclist not to medal.

''I'm very happy to be on the podium," she said. "I don't think (London) will ever go away, but every race I do I'm getting further and further away from that."

There was gold for England, though, with Para-cyclist Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott winning the tandem B2 sprint.

Eighteen-year-old visually impaired rider Thornhill, the youngest member of the English track team, paired with Scott to ease to a 2-0 victory over Scottish pair Aileen McGlynn and Louise Haston in a best-of-three final.

That completed a comfortable day for the pair, who had qualified fastest in the morning session before seeing off Felicity Johnson and Holly Takos 2-0 in the semi-final.

Thornhill said: ''Every gold medal is special but to have it on the platform we have here with the world watching and showing what the world can do is great.

''It's just as special as the world title.''