The omnium is a relentless competition at the Olympic Games, with six events over two days making for an exhausting challenge for body and mind.
Riders can expect to make mistakes across those races but after winning silver on Monday evening in Rio de Janeiro, Mark Cavendish will be ruing one mistake in particular according to his coach Rod Ellingworth.
“He’ll kick himself in the elimination race but I think we can all expect to make one mistake somewhere that perhaps costs you the win,” Ellingworth said. “I think even if he had won that, the points race would still have been the deciding factor.”
Cavendish was the seventh to last man to be eliminated from Sunday evening’s race, also known as the ‘devil,’ when he strayed onto the blue band on the inside of the track in an attempt to avoid being the last rider across the line.
It was an unnecessary error which could have cost Cavendish 12 points in the standings. Elia Viviani won the elimination on his way to winning the overall event by 13 points in the final standings. Defending champion Lasse Norman Hansen (Denmark) was third, six points behind Cavendish.
“Cav’s a winner, we like to win, but we’ve got to be satisfied with a medal,” added Ellingworth. “He’s done two Olympics and not come away with a medal before, so that was the main thing, he wanted a medal.”
Ellingworth praised Cavendish’s improvements in the timed events in the omnium; the individual pursuit, the flying 200m and the kilo. In the IP in particular, Cavendish set a time of 4-16.878 over four kilometres to finish second.
“If you look at where he’s come from and the improvements he’s made across the timed events, it’s really impressive,” Ellingworth said. “He’s worked a lot on that and he’s committed to that and he’s shown really well there. He wanted to come here to win and he wasn’t messing around.”
Commenting on whether his ride in the individual pursuit was a statement following his omission from the team pursuit squad that won gold on Saturday, Cavendish raised a smile.
“I had to slow down,” he joked. “I would’ve gone for Brad’s (Olympic) record, but you [Daily] Mail guys would start click-baiting that I did it because I didn’t want to be friends with him.”