If Mark Cavendish is selected to represent Great Britain at the upcoming World Championships, he will only race if he feels like he can win or help a compatriot to win, his sports director at Dimension Data Roger Hammond has said.
Cavendish is on GB’s 13-strong longlist for the road race in Bergen, Norway, a fortnight on Sunday, which takes place on a course that appears to suit rouleurs and punchy sprinters who can crest a number of small ascents.
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The 32-year-old, however, has had a mightily frustrating season: he contracted glandular fever after Milan-San Remo which prevented him from racing until the Tour of Slovenia in mid-June, and then at the Tour de France he crashed out injured in a crash involving Peter Sagan on stage four. The Tour of Britain, where he is riding in support of Edvald Boasson Hagen, is his first race since he abandoned the Tour in Vittel.
Cavendish will know next week if he has made the nine-man team to race the Worlds – but Hammond says he will only travel if he feels that he can contribute.
“Cav isn’t going to the World Championships just to put a race number on,” Hammond said of the 2011 world champion and 2016 runner-up. “If he is going to be there, he is going to be there to do something.
“He has been to enough World Championships and won enough medals and goal medals at the highest level to know that just turning up isn’t fun anymore.
“The fun at that level of the job is in executing what you’re asked to do. If you can’t do that, you won’t be there.”
Watch: Tour of Britain essential guide
Hammond confirmed that Cavendish is racing into fitness and form in the first half of the Tour of Britain, but that there may be opportunities for him to race for stage victories in the latter part of the race.
“He’s Cav, he’s a superstar. He’s back getting stuck in, helping his teammates at the moment and using that as a motivation to keep pushing on and getting fit,” Hammond said.
“He’s trying to come back again for the second time in a year. Anyone who has been a professional bike rider knows how hard it is to come back from one major injury or illness, so to do it twice in a season takes a special mental strength, especially this late in the season when the rewards are quite slim.
“Realistically, we should be applauding the fact that he is on the startline, rather than expecting him to beat the best sprinters in the world.”