Mark Cavendish says he's unlikely to ride the team pursuit at the Olympics

Cavendish is fifth man in the team pursuit squad, but says he doesn't think he'll feature in the early rounds on Thursday

Mark Cavendish says he's unlikely to feature for Great Britain in the team pursuit on the track this coming Thursday, despite being the fifth man in the squad.

Sir Bradley Wiggins, Owain Doull, Steven Burke and Ed Clancy are the four key riders for the event, with Cavendish brought into the endurance squad to focus on the omnium.

Often teams will field their fifth man in the early qualifying round to try and keep a rider fresh for later in the competition, but Cavendish believes the tightly knit four will ride every round having trained together full time all year, while the Manxman has been on the road.

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Cavendish is likely to only serve as a back-up should one ride be unable to compete.

“I think the lads have been training together and they want to try and do [it]," he told Sky Sports News. "If something happens to them then I’ll ride.

"Especially Brad has been super stressed; he wants to be the hero and all that. I’m kind of just doing the omnium stuff now I think."

31-year-old Cavendish has not won an Olympic medal, having missed out in the madison in Beijing in 2008 and in the road race at London 2012, and says that he's "a little bit" disappointed not to be featuring in the team pursuit.

His early exit from the Tour on the second rest day in Berne, which denied him a chance at a fifth career win on the Champs Élysées in Paris on the final stage, was down to preparation for the team pursuit.

“If I’m honest, that’s the reason I left the Tour early, because of the team pursuit," Cavendish added.

"For the Omnium, finishing the Tour would have been a benefit.

“At the end of the day I qualified for the Olympics for the Omnium anyway, so I’ll concentrate on the Omnium. That’s what I was aiming for the whole time. The team pursuit was a bonus to that anyway.”

The opening round of the team pursuit is on Thursday in Rio, with Cavendish set to make his first appearance in the games in the first event of the omnium on Sunday.

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Richard Windsor

Follow on Twitter: @richwindy

Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.

An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).