July 20 - Britain's medal chances will not suffer if Bradley Wiggins (pictured) decides to miss the London 2012 Olympics to concentrate on the Tour de France, the architect of the country's successful cycling programme claimed.
As revealed by insidethegames on Saturday, Wiggins, a three-times Olympic gold medallist, has raised doubts about whether he will compete on the track at London 2012 after his success in this year's Tour, where he has moved into third place in the overall classification with less than a week to go.
The 29-year-old has spelled out his intention to concentrate on the Tour de France, and has lost seven kilos since last competing in the race two years ago in order to improve his climbing ability.
But Peter Keen, the former performance director of British Cycling, said there was enough talent coming through to cover the possible loss to the Olympic team.
He said: "I think it's an incredible achievement so far.
"It's incredibly exciting for British cycling and I hope it's a breakthrough for the sport.
"If I had seen Bradley three weeks ago and he would have told me he would be in third place with a week to go I would not have been entirely convinced."
Keen, now UK Sport's performance director, is convinced that even if Wiggins does decide not to make London a priority then there is enough other talent in Britain to ensure that the cycling team continues to be successful.
He said: "The 2012 Olympics start less than two weeks after the Tour so there are real challenges there.
"But whatever Bradley does, we understand there are other cyclists who will be able to come through.
"The system is there."
Wiggins, meanwhile, will resume his chase for glory when the Tour de France resumes tomorrow after a rest day today.
Yellow jersey holder and race favourite Alberto Contador is marking Wiggins, who lies one minute 46sec behind, extremely closely, while Australia's Cadel Evans believes the Londoner could still win this year’s Tour, which finishes in Paris next Sunday.
Contador, the 2007 champion, said: “He is a surprise, he was already in incredible shape, but now he has proved to be a real stage race rider.
“He is one of my biggest contenders and I am sure he will be dangerous in Annecy in the time-trial.
"So maybe I will try to take some more time on him beforehand.”
Evans, last year’s runner-up but who has had a disappointing Tour, said he expects the battle for the yellow jersey to go to the wire.
“The why Wiggins is going I wouldn’t be surprised if he won the Tour.
"He’s climbing really well and he certainly knows how to ride on the flat.”
Evans, a former mountain bike champion, said: “I don’t want to say that transforming to road from track is any easier than switching from mountain bike to road.
"But it’s quite a turnaround. He has changed his physique and now he’s climbing very well.”
"But the third week will be the toughest test for him.”
Wiggins, though, is having none of the hype.
He said: “I may never be in this position again.
"But I’m not a fool, I know I’m not going to beat Alberto Contador and win the Tour.
"He’s simply too good.”