ONE constant thread runs through the career of Tour de France winner and British hero Bradley Wiggins – Grantham’s own Rod Ellingworth.
Witham Wheelers life member Rod first came into contact with Wiggins when he was a Team GB track coach, back in the days when ‘Wiggo’ made history at the 2004 Athens Olympics by becoming the first British athlete in 40 years to win three medals at one Games, including gold in the individual pursuit.
Rod’s qualities were picked up by Team Sky who signed him up as performance coach on the team’s formation in 2009. Headed by Dave Brailsford, the team’s ambitious aims were Project Rainbow Jersey and a five-year plan to have a British rider on the top of the Tour de France podium in Paris.
Both have since come to fruition. Personally mentored and coached by Rod, multi-Tour stage winner Mark Cavendish won the World Championships last year. And Wiggins sensationally became the first British cyclist to win the Tour in its 99-year history – achieved after just three years since Team Sky’s formation.
Rod was this back week in his role as Team GB senior endurance coach, making ready for the Olympics, and was unavailable for comment but the Journal spoke to his father, Jeff.
He said: “Rod has most definitely been a big influence on Bradley’s career. He has known Brad for quite a long time. The link between the two of them was when Rod was coaching for Great Britain’s track team.
“When Rod was first at Team Sky he was involved with Bradley in the first year. Since then there has been a change of plan and Bradley is coached mainly by Shane Sutton. But Rod still gets involved, for example with altitude training.
“Rod’s job on the Tour de France was the same as it was last year. He goes off three hours in front of the race and reports back to Sean Yates on any unforseen circumstances and the wind direction.
“He films the last kilometre to the finish and sends it to Yates.”
Once that part of his day’s work is done, Rod is responsible for dealing with any problems each individual rider may have during the day’s stage.
With one of the season’s big ambitions achieved, Rod’s attention now turns to tomorrow’s (Saturday) Olympic road race in which Cavendish is hoping to sprint to victory.
Jeff said that Rod and the Great Britain team had been training intensively on the race route and that the whole team would be riding for a Cavendish win.
Jeff said: “They have spent an awful long time training on the Box Hill circuit. The plan is to come off the Box Hill circuit with Cav still in the main peloton, if there’s not been a massive break.”
l See how Rod’s protege Cavendish gets on in tomorrow’s Olympic road race, which will be televised live, starting at 10am.