LONDON – Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins of Britain bagged the fourth Olympic gold medal of his career here Wednesday after blitzing his rivals to win the men’s road race time trial.
Wiggins, crowned Britain’s first yellow jersey champion just 10 days ago, crossed in 50min 39sec for the 44 km race against the clock which started and finished at the former residence of King Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace.
Germany’s reigning world champion Tony Martin finished second, some 42 seconds slower than Wiggins, for silver, with Britain’s Chris Froome taking the bronze.
Barely 10 days after being crowned Britain’s first yellow jersey champion, a feat which raised his and cycling’s profile enormously, Wiggins admitted it had been a “phenomenal” few weeks.
“I cannot put it into words. I wouldn’t do it justice,” said Wiggins, who overtook Sir Steve Redgrave’s record of six medals with his seventh from the Olympics.
“To win an Olympic gold in your home city. When you win in the velodrome, there are three or four thousand people cheering.
“Here, around the streets of London, the noise is just amazing. I don’t think anything will top that. I’ve just won the Tour de France. It’s just been phenomenal.”
Reigning world champion Martin was racing under par after suffering a broken wrist on the Tour de France, and he did well to clock 51:21.
“It’s a great moment and it means a lot to me,” said Martin, who suffered facial fractures in a crash in April then saw his Olympic preparations suffer again due to his fall at the Tour.
“I was really unlucky this season, but I think today I was very lucky with the silver medal. Bradley is unbeatable at the moment, everybody knows that, and for me silver feels like gold. I’m very happy.”
Froome, who finished runner-up to Wiggins on the Tour de France, timed 51:47 to keep American Taylor Phinney off the bronze by 51 seconds.
The Kenyan-born Briton was all the more happy with his medal as he was unsure how he would fare on a flat course which did not suit his style and which was not part of a three-week Tour.
“I wasn’t that optimistic coming into today. I knew my form was good but doing a one-day time trial is different to doing it on a Grand Tour when everyone’s already tired,” said Froome.
“So I didn’t know what to expect. I just decided to go as hard as I can and see if I can sneak into the medals.”
Defending Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara, who was also racing with injury after banging his shoulder Saturday in a crash during the men’s road race, finished well out of the medals in seventh place at 2:14 adrift.
It is Wiggins’ first Olympic title on the road, having won his three previous gold medals in track cycling’s pursuit events.
Now with a total of seven including four gold, he has overtaken Redgrave’s previous record of six medals for a Briton.
Redgrave won five gold and one bronze and for Wiggins, the retired rower is still one ahead of him.
“It’s not so important that you have seven medals if they’re not the right colour,” said Wiggins, who said he was honoured just to be mentioned alongside Redgrave and Scottish track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.
“The main number is four. Just to be mentioned in the same breath as (Sir Steve) Redgrave is an absolute honour, with Chris Hoy.
“To be up there with those guys is very special.”