LONDON (AFP) — Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish ended the track world championships in London with a dramatic win for the host nation in the Madison event, a result that left Great Britain atop the medals table.
The duo claimed the fifth gold medal of the five-day event to bring their team’s overall medal tally to nine, beating Germany by one.
Cavendish and Wiggins capped a successful week for British cycling with a masterful ride in the two-man Madison, winning early sprints to collect points before launching a late attack that pipped the French pair of Morgan Kneisky and Benjamin Thomas for gold.
It’s the second time Cavendish and Wiggins have linked up to win a Madison world title, having taken gold together in 2008 as well.
The victory was a particularly sweet success for the British riders as the race represented Wiggins’ last competitive ride on the velodrome where he set the world hour record last year.
“It’s my last race on this track so it wasn’t a bad one was it?” said Wiggins, who kissed the track at the end of his winning ride.
“We knew we had the legs the later we got into the race so we kept biding our time because we knew everyone else was on their knees. It was now or never, we didn’t come here to finish fourth, but that was bloody hard!”
For Cavendish, Sunday’s ride was a bounce-back performance after a disappointing Saturday in the omnium.
The Manx rider had hoped to deliver a podium result in that event to make a selection to the British Olympic team more likely, but his Rio hopes were dealt a blow as he finished sixth.
Poor showings in the time trial and individual pursuit saw him finish outside the medal places as
Fernando Gaviria took gold.
“I wanted to test it. I don’t know if I am going [to the Olympics],” Cavendish said Saturday. “Hopefully I did enough for selection. I don’t know. We are incredibly lucky with GB that we have a group of strong guys to go to the Olympic Games.
“We have got an absolute load of riches.”
The Madison is not an Olympic event, but it did provide Cavendish an opportunity to end his weekend on a gold-medal high note.
“It’s our second world championship together, I’m so happy,” said Cavendish. “We rode together eight years ago and this is one of the last times we will ride together. It’s incredible.”