Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) arrives in London today ahead of the London and Ghent Six-Day races with Sir Bradley Wiggins. He says the world champion pairing in Ghent, Wiggins’s final 2017 race, will take on special meaning, “like the Eddy Merckx and Patrick Sercu days.”
Cavendish won his final road race of the year under the Abu Dhabi F1 track’s flood lights. He sprinted clear of Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky) in the Abu Dhabi Tour’s stage four, adding to his stage two win. Now, he turns his attention to the real track.
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He explained that he must still build up his track bike. He laughed at the idea that he couldn’t do it on his own, saying that “it’s only a track bike.”
The London Six-Day runs from Tuesday October 25 to Sunday October 30. Ghent, on the famous Kuipke velodrome, goes from November 15 to 20.
“Ghent is know as being crazy hard, the demands on the riders are a lot,” Cavendish said.
“The track is also steeped in history. A lot of great riders have ridden there. To be riding with Brad as World Champions is special, it’ll be like the Eddy Merckx and Patrick Sercu days.
“There are always a lot of British spectators there and I love racing in Belgium. I got close to winning with Iljo Keisse a couple of years. I’d like to win it this year. I’m not done yet for 2016.”
Cavendish last raced in Ghent’s Kuipke velodrome in 2014 with Keisse and placed second. He also raced with Rob Hayles in 2005 and Wiggins in 2007. He lined up twice as an amateur before that. Wiggins won with partner Matthew Gilmore in 2003.
The London Six-Day recommenced last year after a 30-year break. This edition takes on special meaning with Wiggins retiring off of his recent team pursuit Olympic gold.
Cavendish juggled a road season with the track. He won the yellow jersey and four stages in the Tour de France, and took the silver medal in the Olympic omnium and world championships in Doha.
Cavendish looks back on his 2016 season
“I had careful planning and great group around me, I guess so [I had some doubts] but I’m not prepared to talk about it,” Cavendish said.
“Dimension Data let me take time to miss racing to concentrate on the track. But we knew I’d come to the Tour de France with good form at the Tour de France.
“The demands of road and tack are different; I always use the analogy about Andy Murray switching from tennis to squash.
“In 2017, those demands are going to be easier but it’s still going go be a big old year hopefully. It’s not going to be quiet, I’m going to be doing more road racing. I owe the team.”