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Sir Bradley Wiggins targets Olympic return as a rower

Joseph Delves
3 Jul 2017

Post-retirement workout regime leads Tour de France winner to consider Olympic comeback

Sir Bradley Wiggins is set to return to the Lee Valley Velodrome where he set the Hour Record in 2015, but this time he’ll be without his bike. He’s due to compete at the British Indoor Rowing Championships there later this year, with rumours that the rider is considering a final Olympic bid to add to his eight medals, this time on the water.

Partly inspired by his friendship with fellow Olympian and rower James Cracknell, Wiggins has taken to indoor rowing as a way of maintaining his fitness following retirement from competitive cycling at the end of 2016.

However Wiggins seems to have been surprised at the form he’s so far managed to retain, recently posting a personal best max power output of 1589 watts while out riding.

His performance as a rower seems to be almost equally impressive.

'I took up rowing when I retired just to keep fit, but my numbers started getting quite good so I’ve started taking it up professionally now and getting coached seven days a week.

'I’m doing the British Championships in December, and I’m going to see how far I can take it, maybe a sixth Olympic gold?

'I might be being a bit delusional but the times suggest I’m not,' he was reported as saying by the Daily Mail.

It’s not unheard of for athletes to transfer between the two sports. Rebecca Romero has previously won an Olympic silver medal as a rower, before switching to cycling to win gold in the individual pursuit four years later.

Similarly, Hamish Bond is now targeting the individual time trial at the Olympic Games, having arguably been the most successful rower of all time.

To produce the sort of power necessary to be competitive as a heavyweight rower Wiggins will need to increase his weight by about a third compared to what it was when he won the Tour de France

Most successful heavyweight male rowers are around 1.95m in height, meaning Wiggins would have to bridge a slight, but significant, physiognomic disadvantage with power and fitness.

While Wiggins' instagram post has hinted that he may have maintained a 1 minute 49 second 500m split for a one hour session, top heavweight men would be considerably more powerful, so Wiggins would have his work set out.

If he were to row at lightweight level, his Tour de France weight of 69kgs would sit conveniently just within the 70kg limit. Unfortunately, changes to the 2020 Olympic rowing program have reducied six Olympic spots for male lightweight rowers to just two, meaning competition would be fierce.

While Wiggins hints at an indoor training regime, we are yet to see any sign of him taking to the water to cultivate his interest in rowing. As a highly technical sport, Wiggins will need to develop considerable skills to feasibly match his indoor rowing performance on the water at Olympic level. Typically it takes even the most physiologically talented athletes several years to reach the required technical standard.

Wiggins is being coached by Cracknell in the lead up to the British Indoor Rowing Championship, which takes place on 9th December.

As an open event if you fancy pitting yourself against the former Tour, World and Olympic Champion there’s still time to enter: