Sir Bradley Wiggins’ return to competition has been confirmed, with the five-time Olympic cycling champion swapping his bike for an indoor rowing machine.
British Rowing on Friday announced Wiggins’ participation in the December 9 event at the Lee Valley VeloPark, formerly known as the Olympic Velodrome.
“On Saturday, December 9, Sir Bradley Wiggins, five-time Olympic champion, will take on the best of the GB Rowing Team at the British Rowing Indoor Championships,” British Rowing said.
Wiggins this week broke his silence on UK Anti-Doping’s investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in cycling, saying it has provoked a “malicious witch hunt” that has been a “living hell” for his family.
In a statement posted on his social media pages, Wiggins welcomed Wednesday’s announcement by UKAD that it was closing a 14-month investigation into a package that was delivered to his team doctor at the end of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine race in France.
As UKAD has been unable to prove what was in that package, commonly refereed to as the Jiffy bag, it said no anti-doping charges would be brought.
While this has “pleased” Wiggins, the 37-year-old has criticised UKAD for not issuing an “unqualified finding of innocence” and said he will consider his legal options.
Wiggins, after winning a fifth Olympic gold in Rio last summer, retired from cycling while under investigation.
The 2012 Tour de France champion, who is friends with former Olympic champion rower James Cracknell, has since enjoyed rowing on an indoor machine for fitness, sharing images of his workouts on social media.
The posts have shown Wiggins has physically bulked up since switching athletic pursuits and he has previously floated the idea of going to a sixth Olympics, aged 40, in a different sport.
British Rowing added Wiggins would be competing over 2,000 metres.
It said: “The 2,000m race, which is due to take place around lunchtime, will be fast and furious as the heavyweight men go for gold.
“At last year’s British Rowing Indoor Championships, GB rower Adam Neil took home the title in a time of five minutes 46.5 seconds, followed by Great Britain’s Callum McBrierty and Matt Rossiter.
“At the same event in 2015, Moe Sbihi, Olympic champion in the men’s four at Rio 2016, smashed four-time Olympic champion Sir Matthew Pinsent’s 11-year British indoor rowing record in a time of five mins 41.8secs in front of a roaring crowd.”
Rossiter, bronze medallist in the men’s four at the 2017 World Rowing Championships, said on British Rowing’s official website: “He has to have one of the biggest engines ever in world sport and for him to try and tune it to rowing is awesome.”
UKAD opened its investigation in September 2016 over the delivery of a package to Dr Richard Freeman, Wiggins and Team Sky.
The main allegation was that the package contained a banned corticosteroid, triamcinolone, while Dr Freeman and Wiggins said it was a legal decongestant called Fluimucil.
There is no paperwork to confirm this and Dr Freeman, who has been too unwell to speak to UKAD and has recently resigned from his British Cycling post, lost his records when his laptop was stolen.
The decision to investigate came soon after Russian hackers the Fancy Bears revealed that Wiggins had medical exemptions to use triamcinolone before the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and 2013 Giro d’Italia.
Wiggins did not compete at the velodrome at London 2012, instead winning the road time-trial at Hampton Court.
However, he has had successes there, setting the world hour record in June 2015 and winning the Madison world title, with Mark Cavendish, in March 2016.