Mark Cavendish to make return to track competition

cavendish, wiggins, olympics, beijing, 2008

Mark Cavendish will compete at the International Belgian Open next month in what may be an effort to keep the option of a track berth at the 2016 Rio Olympics alive.

Event organisers have confirmed the 28-year-old will start the scratch race and the Madison, alongside Owain Doull, at the September 6-7 meet, which carries UCI World Cup qualifying points.

Under new criteria, riders must qualify their own spot to be eligible for World Cup, and by extension World Championship and Olympic, selection. 

Cavendish, during a stint as a London 2012 track pundit on BBC, last year toyed with the idea of a return to the velodrome at Rio as part of GB's team pursuit squad.

Olympic success has evaded Cavendish on two occasions now - both on the track at the Beijing Games and last season in the men's road race where he was the protected rider for Great Britain - and is something the 25-time Tour de France stage winner wants to add to his palmarès. 

Great Britain is currently finalising its team for the Open in Gent, which falls ahead of the November 1-3 World Cup in Manchester. Cavendish last competed seriously in the velodrome at the 2009 World Championships in Poland where he raced the scratch and Madison. 

Compatriot Bradley Wiggins this week revealed he has decided to fully focus on a Rio track berth after the conclusion of the 2014 road season with Sky. 

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Sophie Smith is an Australian journalist, broadcaster and author of Pain & Privilege: Inside Le Tour. She follows the WorldTour circuit, working for British, Australian and US press, and has covered 10 Tours de France.