Wiggins welcomed back to the track
11:02pm Friday 18th July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Sir Bradley Wiggins has been welcomed back to the track with open arms by Team England, with Ed Clancy admitting the former Tour de France champion has been treated like a visiting celebrity.
Wiggins will be lining up for his country at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after being controversially overlooked for Team Sky's Tour squad.
Although three of Wiggins' four Olympic gold came in the velodromes of Athens and Beijing, he has been a road specialist for the best part of six years, culminating in his historic Tour success in 2012.
He is now back in England's team pursuit line-up at the Commonwealths and pondering another track run at Rio 2014.
Despite cross-border rivalries, crowds in Scotland are sure to laud him as a returning hero and his Barnsley-born pursuit team-mate Clancy concedes it has been similar inside the squad.
"Brad's return is definitely a good thing - he's exciting, he brings a lot of energy, everyone knows he is a character and he is a superstar now, a massive superstar in the world of cycling," said Clancy.
"I remember the first day he turned up to train with us again. There's us guys - me and Steven Burke, Olympic champions, Andy Tennant who's been there - but Brad's still a celebrity to us.
"When he walked in that first day, we thought we haven't seen this guy for a while and since we last saw him he's won the Tour; he's a big deal these days.
"I just didn't want to say anything stupid but he's dead cool, just like he always was."
England expect to be major contenders for gold in the pursuit and Clancy is sure Wiggins can play a full part in that, rather than simply riding as a consolation prize following his Tour disappointment.
"He just wants some confirmation that he's still got it on the track, that he can still be a big player in the team pursuit and the way he's riding at the moment, it looks like that is the case," said Clancy.
"As soon as he dropped back in, he wasn't too far from his best."
Wiggins' presence has also had a wider influence on the rest of the English squad.
Both Joanna Rowsell and Laura Trott, Olympic champions and world record holders in their own right in the women's pursuit, make no secret of their admiration for Wiggins.
Rowsell was a novice to track cycling when he claimed a hat-trick of medals 10 years ago, but immediately found herself drawn in by his efforts.
"He was one of my big motivators when I was young," she said.
"I began cycling back in 2004 and knew nothing about the sport. I had watched the Athens Olympics that year and seen him win a gold, silver and bronze. I remember watching the individual pursuit and feeling that I liked the look of that one.
"Sure, he has that aura about him; he has Olympic gold medals, he has won the Tour de France and he is 34 so he is not even that old.
"It's always inspirational just having someone like that in the track centre with us.
"It was the same with Chris Hoy, he just gave you confidence by being around."
Trott, a double gold medallist at London 2012, hardly needs any technical advice when it comes to her chosen discipline but is simply happy to have Wiggins the raconteur around.
"I guess Brad was the first pro I ever met, I was quite young and he seemed so normal," said the 22-year-old.
"He gave me someone to idolise. I really like the fact that he's back in now.
"I always wanted to train with him and be part of the team with him, I just like hearing his stories to be honest.
"I just like sitting there and I could listen to him talk all day. Even in the track centre between efforts I like hearing about the Tour, which is stupid because I don't even like watching it on telly, but I just like hearing the stories and getting an insight into it."