Could this road race loophole give Mark Cavendish an extra route into the Olympics?

A rule exploited by France in the 2012 Olympic Games could give Mark Cavendish an extra route into the British track team

The UCI has retained a loophole that allows riders to compete in track cycling events at the Olympics despite entering the road race.

In 2012 Mickael Bourgain of France completed just one mile of the Olympic road race in London but this allowed him to also ride on the track and reach the Keirin finals in the velodrome.

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The UCI attempted to close the loophole by enforcing a minimum limit of 10 UCI points for competitors, however this had to be revised as it would exclude too many cyclists from lesser cycling nations.

According to the UCI’s qualifying document: “Any athlete who has qualified and who has been entered by their NOC (National Olympic Committee) in one of the cycling disciplines (BMX, mountain bike or track cycling) will have the right to be entered in road cycling, provided that the NOC has obtained a quota place in the said event, that the limits for participation per NOC and per event are not exceeded, and that the athlete eligibility requirements have been met.”

Great Britain currently has five places on its road race team so in theory, Mark Cavendish could use it as a platform to compete on the track. The Manxman could only finish sixth at the World Championships Omnium last weekend, placing his Rio 2016 a selection in doubt.

However, the undulating course offers a real opportunity for Chris Froome to take a gold medal so the team is likely to be filled with riders who are capable of supporting him on the climbs.

Another option would have been for Cavendish to enter the cross-country mountain bike race (in which Great Britain potentially has one place but no real contenders for medals) as Robert Forstemann did in 2012. However, in this instance the loophole was closed and the 10 UCI point limit imposed.