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Apr 12, 2015 – Bradley Wiggins finished 18th in his final road race for Team Sky on Sunday before embarking on a quest for a fifth Olympic gold medal.
AFP/Kåre Dehlie Thorstad
Wiggins had long let it be known that his last goal in a Team Sky jersey would be to win Paris-Roubaix but try as he might, he was unable even to better last year’s ninth place finish, as he came home in a group of about 15 riders, 31 seconds behind winner John Degenkolb.
Yet despite being unable to add this prestigious race to his long list of accolades, including the 2012 Tour de France, the charismatic Brit was satisfied. “I’m happy. I’ve had a good run, and being a classics rider has been like a new job for me over the last two years,” said the 34-year-old, who will now try to win team pursuit gold in Rio next year.
“It was a hobby driven by my passion. Before the race I was trying really hard to not think about this being my last race for Team Sky. So many riders came up to me to wish me good luck and that was really nice.
“All these guys who you’ve been bashing heads with for years, never spoken to them, and they’re coming up to congratulate me on my career. “It’s hard not to get emotional when that happens, but I got through it OK. “I said at the start, I just want a clean run today, and I got that. I didn’t have one puncture, one crash. I came through it pretty well and I was pleased to finish in the top 20.”
Wiggins briefly looked like he might sign off in style with an attack from 33km out, but although an impressive four-man break formed, the others seemed reluctant to work with him.
“It was a tough edition but nice to be able to have a few attacks,” Wiggins said.
“I had my first go where I said I was going to go on the bus this (Sunday) morning. No-one else seemed to be expecting it there and I got myself in a pretty good position. “It was unfortunate though that I got lumbered with a few riders who didn’t want to work and that meant it was chased down quite quickly.”
When Wiggins made another break for the finish in the final 5km it was a desperate last throw of the dice as the winning seven-rider move was already too far up the road to catch. “I tried on a long uphill drag with Sep Vanmarcke, but by then it’s like when the Titanic’s going down and everyone’s hanging on for grim death, trying to get every last ounce out of themselves,” he added.
“I felt like I had the legs to win, I think everybody in that group did. It could have been any one of us. “When I made my attacks they said it was panic stations behind, but I think that came down to the pre-race hype when I said I was up for it. It is what it is.” Now it will be all about the track and the quest for a fifth Olympic title in a fourth successive Games, a result that would equal the British record five gold medals won by rowing great Steve Redgrave.