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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 06:26 GMT
Wiggins gets back on track

Bradley Wiggins
Wiggins returns to the track after competing in the Tour de France
Bradley Wiggins goes into the final round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester this weekend looking like he has gone three rounds with Mike Tyson.

An unfortunate training accident involving a towel and treadmill has left the Olympic gold medallist with a cut eye and a shiner, but he assures everyone it looks much worse than it is.

A few bruises can do nothing to dim the 26-year-old's enthusiasm for his return to track racing after spending the last two seasons concentrating on gruelling road races, including the Tour de France.

But with the Beijing Olympics only 18 months away, it's time to get back in the velodrome.

"It's less than two years to Beijing so it seemed a good opportunity to get back on track," he told BBC Sport.

606 DEBATE: How will Wiggins fare in Manchester?

"With the World Championships in Manchester next year as well, there will be very few opportunities to race under the kind of atmosphere there will be here over the weekend, so it seemed a natural progression.

"Watching the World Championships in Bordeaux last year really got me thinking that I'd love to be back with the boys.

"They just missed out on the team pursuit title and part of me thought I wanted to come back into it next year - and I started to feel the hunger again."

After becoming the first Briton for 40 years to win three Olympic medals at a single Games in Athens in 2004, he felt the need to get away from it all and experience all that cycling had to offer.

Bradley Wiggins celebrates winning gold in the 2004 Olympics
Wiggins won gold in the 4km pursuit at the 2004 Athens Olympics

"I needed that break after Athens to soak up everything that happened to me and it has been a refreshing change doing things like the Tour de France and other such big races," he said.

"It's been a good change and it's made me a bit hungrier and refreshed to come back in and defend my title in Beijing next year."

He will again return to take on Le Tour this summer as it gives him a different outlook on the 4km pursuit event in which he has enjoyed so much success.

"It has made me a bit stronger and has certainly put things into perspective.

"My event is four minutes long and it's quite a mental challenge getting up for something that's four minutes as it seems such a long race," he said.

"But after doing the Tour de France last year, which takes three weeks, it makes it a lot easier to cope with a four minute race so it's definitely made a difference."

The schedule in Manchester is short, but far from sweet for the cyclists, with Wiggins facing four races in two days.

"It's quite intense and there is a lot going on each ride," he said.

"Concentration levels go through the roof as you've got four minutes to get it right and there's no room for error.

"You may only race for 20 minutes in total over the two days, but you definitely feel it in the days after in terms of being mentally drained and exerting so much."

You can watch Wiggins and the likes of Chris Hoy and Australia's Ryan Bayley and Bradley McGee on the BBC this weekend.

World Cup Track cycling

Saturday 24 February
BBC Two, 1300-1400
BBCi, 1400-2210

Sunday 25 February
BBC Two, 1350-1530

The action is available on the BBC Sport website for UK users.

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