Cavendish placed second to Elia Viviani (Team Sky) in the Omnium at the Rio de Janeiro Games and fell just short of adding an Olympic gold medal to an already rich palmarès. In the Worlds road race, where he already won in 2011, he sprinted to second behind Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).
“I approached this season with a strategy, I didn’t have the pressure of going into every race and winning,” Cavendish said at Tuesday night’s cycling gala in Abu Dhabi.
“I had targets that I could build to how I wanted to and go for them. At least one gold medal would’ve been nice from the Olympics or worlds.”
The Brit targeted the Tour de France, the Olympics and the Worlds, and landed just short of the bull’s eye. Cavendish won the first stage of the Tour and wore the yellow’s leader’s jersey for the first time. He took three more stage victories. He did not win in the Olympics or Worlds, but came awfully close.
“I was beaten by worthy champions there. Elia Viviani is the best Omnium rider in the world and Peter Sagan is Peter Sagan. So you can’t complain about who I was beaten by,” he added.
“Definitely the Worlds was quite close. I feel sick when I look at the… I feel disappointed when I see the jersey. I know I was that close and it was my last chance of winning. It’s bike riding. It’s not like I lost to anyone else, but it was Peter Sagan.”
Instead of disappointment, Cavendish should be filled with satisfaction given the dedication it took to mix track training with his road race commitments. He fit in qualification events and World Cups with WorldTour events Tirreno-Adriatico, and Paris-Roubaix.
“It was definitely hard psychologically, hard physically, but I knew I could do it. I know some detractors thought I couldn’t do it, but I’ve kind of done a lot in my career, I’m not a bad bike rider.
“I’m satisfied with it, but it’s never going to be 100%. Even if I won everything, I’d probably still find fault in it.”
Cavendish’s next milestone could be becoming the Tour’s most successful stage winner. This season, he passed Bernard Hinault’s record. He now counts 30. If he reaches 34, he will tie with leader Eddy Merckx.
While the UCI celebrated the end of season at its gala, Tour organiser ASO presented its 2017 route. Though thousands of miles away, Cavendish took note..
“It’s either mountains or sprints, it’s kind of how it used to be,” Cavendish said of the 2017 Tour. “It gives myself and the whole team opportunities through the 21 days.”