HAMPTON COURT, England (AP) -- Bradley Wiggins had just stepped to the top step of the podium to accept his time trial gold medal when the oddest of emotions swept over him.
It wasn't joy, it wasn't pride. Either would have been easily understood.
It was a sense of depression.
The first British rider to win the Tour de France, Wiggins had just scorched a 27-mile course south of London, carried along by the thousands of fans lining the route. He finished more than 42 seconds ahead of Germany's Tony Martin for his fourth career gold medal, and seventh medal overall, moving him past rower Steve Redgrave as Britain's most decorated Olympian.
Wiggins thought to himself: "It can't get any better than this."
"It's almost a slight melancholy. Is that it? Melancholy?" Wiggins asked. "I sort of realized on the podium that's probably it for me in terms of sporting. I don't think it's ever going to top that now, to win the Tour and Olympic gold in London, in front of that crowd."
Wiggins isn't about to retire, of course. Not when he's at the top of his game.
But the affable, homely chap from London also doesn't envision having the dedication necessary to defend his time trial title four years from now in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In any case, it wouldn't mean nearly as much.
"There's nothing out there in the foreseeable future that will top winning Olympic gold in London," Wiggins said. "There are other things to keep on going and doing, but that's probably the height now. I'll look back in 10 or 15 years and think, 'That's as good as it got.'"
It was awfully good for Kristin Armstrong, too.
The reigning Olympic champion from the United States briefly retired after the Beijing Games to start a family. But the itch to compete returned not long after giving birth to her son, Lucas, in 2010, and Armstrong came back to win her second straight gold medal on Wednesday.
"You're only as good as your last result."
In the case of both Armstrong and Wiggins, it couldn't have been any better.
Wiggins covered the men's course from Hampton Court Palace in 50 minutes, 39.54 seconds, while Martin finished in 51:21.45. Tour runner-up Chris Froome took the bronze medal in 51:47.87, capping off a remarkable summer for British road cycling.
"We couldn't ask for too much more," Froome said.
Wiggins has been nearly invincible since breaking his collarbone during last year's Tour de France, winning a slew of races early in the season. He dominated every time trial he entered, and was the heavy favorite when he rolled off the starting ramp on Wednesday.
"I mean, to be honest, I've said all year, this is the plan, this is what we've been training to do," Wiggins said. "I've heard the question all year, 'Is it possible?' I think I've answered all those questions the last six weeks."
Riding in the middle of a sea of British fans dressed in red, blue and white - some of them even sporting Wiggins' signature sideburns - the lanky Wiggins moved up from second place at the first time check into first, and then put on the jets all the way to the finish.
"Bradley was, this year, a bit better," Martin conceded.
A bit better than everybody.