Rio 2016: Barnsley's Ed Clancy wins third Olympic gold - and a new world record - in Men's Team Pursuit

The British Men's Team Pursuit cyclists on their way to gold in Rio
The British Men's Team Pursuit cyclists on their way to gold in Rio
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Ed Clancy stormed to his third Olympic gold in Rio last night - and claimed it was the best of the lot.

“It’s the best of them all,” said Clancy, the only man to have been in this team for their wins in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

“Truth be told we haven’t won a fat deal between London and now. We have had some big downs but crossing the line, a second ahead of the Aussies made every single pedal rev and every single training session worthwhile.

“We have been through the mill a bit and one of the first people to see me was our team doctor. The medical team have put about a thousand man hours into my back, to get me where I am now – I can’t thank those guys enough.”

There’s an art to exiting the stage and leaving the crowd wanting more and Sir Bradley Wiggins found a way to time it to perfection.

There was certain inevitability to his final Olympic appearance, as alongside Clancy, Steven Burke and Owain Doull he claimed the team pursuit title in Rio.

It was his fifth career gold and his eighth medal - overtaking Sir Chris Hoy as Britain’s most decorated Olympian in the process.

Four years ago he famously sat in a wonderfully kitsch gilded throne, after claiming time trial gold in the shadow of Hampton Court.

Perhaps it’s fitting - in these stripped down Games - that he collapsed into a white folding chair as the enormity of his achievement hit home.

And what a race it was, as the Australia quarter of Alex Edmondson, Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn and Sam Welford seized that peaked at well over half a second.

But Clancy, Wiggins and team had a game plan and they stuck to it, though they didn’t overhaul their rival’s advantage until the last 400m of the 4,000m race.

They stopped the clock at 3:50.265, nearly a second and a half quicker than their world record from four years ago.

Wiggins admitted his return to track cycling, after spending seven years focussed on the road, was a risk and the fear of failure was tangible.

The team pursuit squad had moved on in his absence, winning gold in London without their talisman, who focussed his attention on the road and time trial.

But they not won a world title in four years and finished second to Australia at the World Championships in London earlier this year.

It seemed, after years of dominance, that the rest of the world - Australia, Denmark and New Zealand - had caught up.

But Wiggins drags those around him up by the force of his personality - he doesn’t settle for second best and he didn’t want to end his career with anything other than a fifth Olympic gold, to add to his silver and two bronzes from five Games appearances.

There was talk from their training base in Wales they were going well, gossip on social media that they’d been setting world record times in training.

Rob Hayles, Wiggin’s room-mate when he won his first gold in Athens, knew the result before it started, claiming when Brad is this focussed, he always delivers.

“It is hard to come off and not just spout a load of clichés and emotional stuff,” said Wiggins.

“The last 12 months we have pretty much done everything together, trained at altitude, early morning starts at the track, late finishes at the track before Christmas Day, all for this moment.

“We’ve done it and it’s just these guys here. I would never have done it if we didn’t have the calibre to do it.

“Ed and Burkey are two of the most underrated athletes I have ever raced with. So talented at what they do, they don’t get the credit for it because they are not the big road stars.

“Then Doully reminds me of a young Geraint Thomas and he can do anything in the sport, nothing fazes him, Olympic finals at ages 21. When you’re with guys like that it makes my job a hell of a lot easier.

“I’ve not done this for records or to be called the best or whatever, just to be mentioned in the same breath as people like Sir Steve Redgrave or Sir Chris Hoy is an honour for me, they’re two of my heroes.

“I never considered that I’ll be up there with them, that’s never driven me, I’ve never thought about it. I just wanted to come here and enjoy these Olympic Games and win this medal, that’s all.”

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