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World team pursuit record will fall in Rio, Wiggins says

The world team pursuit record will fall once again in Rio de Janeiro this summer, Bradley Wiggins says, dipping below 3:50 for the first time.

It’s a record that tumbles every four years, as the world’s top track programs bring their best to the Olympic Games. In Sydney it fell below four minutes; in Athens it dropped again, to 3:56.6. Four years later in Beijing it dropped twice, 3:55.3 to 3:55.2. The London Olympics produced the current record of 3:51.659.

“I think to win gold we’ll have to break the world record,” Wiggins said, standing in his Team Wiggins kit in front of the young racers his eponymous development team brought to Dubai. “I think that’s standard, every Olympics the record comes down.”

Wiggins was part of the British squad that set a new record and earned gold in Beijing, but he raced only road events at the London Games — and won the time trial. He’s now back on the track with an eye toward Rio, racing on the road only occasionally with Team Wiggins.

Gold in Rio will mean riding around 3:49, he said, dropping two seconds off the current record.

“I think that’s the target we’ve set ourselves, 3:49, which will probably be good enough to win it,” he said. “You’ve got to reach for the stars all the time really.”

Wiggins, the current hour record holder, has put on considerable muscle mass in his return to the track, though he’s still impressively lean by any standard outside that of a Tour de France winner. He spent the holidays in track-specific training, and now, three weeks out from the world track championships, is in the midst of his first short block of road racing of the year. He will use the Amgen Tour of California for a similar fitness buildup in the months leading up to Rio.

The time between Dubai and worlds will be spent on the track, he said, tapering down to race form. “We’ll be alright I think,” he said of the team’s expected worlds performance. “We haven’t got Ed Clancy but we’ve got enough firepower at the moment I think.”