Mark Cavendish said he’s not “too disheartened” by his performance in the omnium after he finished sixth at the 2016 Track World Championships in London, and refused to rule himself out of contesting the event in Rio.
Before the championships British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton said that Cavendish needed to place in the top three in the event in order to keep his hopes of contesting the event in the Olympics this summer alive. However, although the Manxman placed outside the podium, he said he would talk with the coaches to discuss his Rio prospects.
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“I’m not actually too disheartened with how it went, I didn’t make many tactical errors across the whole omnium,” Cavendish said.
“That was an Olympic field, that was the best riders in the world right there, it’s not gonna be any different at the Olympics. I think the guys who are gonna go good there now are going the same now. We’ll have a talk with Heiko [Salzwedel, men’s endurance coach] and see what happens.”
Despite his comments before the Worlds, Sutton similarly refused to rule Cavendish out of contention for the Olympics, instead saying the decision lies with the rider.
“We’d like to sit down with him and say ‘do you think this medal is realist, can you commit to this’, and see what he says,” Sutton said. “We can’t rule him out at all.”
In reference to his comments before the Worlds, Sutton said he had been impressed by Cavendish’s performance across the two days.
“I think we both agreed that, [that] a podium performance would cement his place. I think over the six events, he did some really good stuff,” he continued.
“It is Mark Cavendish but we owe that respect to him to sit down and see whether this is realistic in going forward. I’ve seen some great quality from the guy over the last couple of days, what a bike rider to be away for so long and come back and be at the races.”
Sutton admitted if Cavendish were to commit to riding in Rio, his preparation would need to involve just two weeks at the Tour de France and more time in Manchester. And while Great Britain’s omnium place comes with the caveat of riding the team pursuit, Sutton believes the 30-year-old is capable of performing in the discipline.
“I’ve always said we’ve never seen the best of [Cavendish] in the TP, I’m sure he could step up,” he said.
Of the six omnium rounds, Cavendish said it was the timed events that let him down — he placed 13th in the individual pursuit and 12th in the one kilometre time trial.
“One of them the kilo I actually did a good time it’s just that everybody did better than me,” he said. “The pursuit I got a bit carried away. I’ve been practicing my tactics and I just got carried away with the crowd. If I’m honest I rode like a junior.
“In the points race it was always going to be hard for me to get away and get the lap, so I usually have to go for points.”
Colombian Fernando Gaviria successfully defended his world title in a scintillatingly close finale to the men’s omnium.
Italian Elia Viviani topped the standings going into the points race, but was overhauled by Gaviria, Roger Kluge (Germany) and Glenn O’Shea (Australia) – the latter two having gained a lap to book their place on the podium with silver and bronze. Gaviria, Kluge and O’Shea all finished on 191 points, but Gaviria won due to his higher placings in previous rounds.
Cavendish still has one last opportunity to grab a medal at the Track Worlds on Sunday evening, when he partners Sir Bradley Wiggins in the men’s Madison. The pair were Madison world champions in 2008, but famously missed out on a medal in the Olympics in Beijing later that year.
Cavendish will return to the road to ride in the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in Italy from March 9-15 where he will once again ride against Gaviria and Viviani.
In the women’s omnium, Laura Trott began her campaign ending the first day of competition in second place after three out of the six events.
The 23-year-old finished third in the opening elimination race, which she followed with second in the individual pursuit and second in the elimination race. Sarah Hammer (USA) lies in first place overnight.