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Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Saturday, 19 February 2011

Bradley Wiggins comeback lifts Great Britain cyclists

Track World Cup, Manchester
Venue: Manchester Velodrome Dates: 18-20 February
Coverage: Watch live all three days on BBC red button and online (UK only) and BBC Two on Sunday; full coverage details here

Track is world away from Tour - Wiggins

Jill Douglas
By Jill Douglas
BBC Sport cycling reporter

Having Bradley Wiggins back in the Great Britain team pursuit squad has given everyone a huge lift for the World Cup in Manchester.

Coming back to the track from his day job on the road with Team Sky, he is looking very comfortable, he is as lean as I have seen him and looks incredibly fit.

His consistent and relaxed manner on the bike and the fact it is second nature for him to come in here and perform, lifts all of the guys in the pursuit team. It is like putting a Rolls Royce motor into an already very finely tuned sports car.

Given that Brad has been away from this pursuit team since the Olympics in Beijing, he has had no problems slotting right back in. He looks like he has never been away and I cannot wait to see him in action on Sunday.

I spoke to him this week and he said it feels like a holiday coming to the velodrome because of the hard work he does out on the road with his pro cycling team.

He's always admired Sir Steve Redgrave and I think for Bradley to get a gold medal in London, his third Olympics, would be very special

Jill Douglas

Make no mistake though, it will not be a holiday when it matters.

He said it is not about winning but about setting a good time this weekend. The Australian pursuit team have been going faster and faster and I think that for the Great Britain team to lay down a fast time in their home velodrome and show the Australians how good they are would be important psychologically.

When you combine somebody of the calibre of Bradley with a hugely talented, consistent rider like Geraint Thomas it makes them look like a real class act and then along with Ed Clancy, Steven Burke or Andy Tennant you have an embarrassment of riches.

I am expecting a really good time from the team pursuit guys on Sunday, possibly a three minutes, 54 seconds or a 3:55.

When you think the gold medal in Sydney was won at just below four minutes, it shows how far this event has come in the last few years.

They are even predicting that it might be a 3:50 which is needed for a gold medal in London and that would be the long-term goal of this team, to knock another four seconds off the world record.

Paul Manning, Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins
Manning, Clancy, Thomas and Wiggins won team pursuit gold in Beijing

It is great that Bradley has come back, it says a lot about his relationship with British Cycling and the track that he is prepared to do this and it shows his passion for the Olympics as well.

He has always admired Sir Steve Redgrave and I think for Bradley to get a gold medal in London, his third Olympics, would be very special.

A mark of the size of Brad's aura and reputation came when I was watching training mid-way through Friday's session. Bradley and the pursuit team went out to stretch their legs on the boards and every team, every nation, stopped what they were doing all around the velodrome, stood up and watched the pursuit team go around. They were just so good.

I love the reaction from the rest of the world, it is going to take something special to beat the British side. Australia and New Zealand are very strong, Russia are getting up there and the Danes are coming on so it is a tough competition, there's some real quality.

Bradley has a big year ahead of him with the spring classics and the grand tours on the road. It was important for him to come back to the track and I think he has been pleasantly surprised by where he is and how easy he has found slotting back in.

You have to admire him. How many other general classification riders, stage winners and big-name road riders would come from the road to the track? None of them.

But for Bradley, this is home, he is passionate about it, it gives him a huge lift and that is exactly what he does for everyone else in return.

Jill Douglas was talking to BBC Sport's Marc Vesty

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see also
GB women take team pursuit gold
18 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Hoy hails GB cycling team spirit
17 Feb 11 |  Cycling
GB begin pursuit selection fight
16 Feb 11 |  Cycling

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