Mark Cavendish’s chances of making it to the Olympics are diminishing, according to the head coach at British Cycling.
British sprinter Cavendish has made a return to the track this winter, competing in the London and Ghent Six Day events, but has been coy when asked whether he hopes to fight for gold in Tokyo next season.
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But with the Olympics just eight months away, Cavendish is running out of time to qualify.
In an interview with the BBC, British Cycling head coach Iain Dyer said: “Opportunities are flying by which makes that increasingly difficult. You don’t do a madison on your own, so while it is still logistically a possibility the chances would appear to be diminishing at this point.”
Cavendish, 34, has a silver medal from the Omnium at the 2016 Rio games, when he missed out to Italian rival Elia Viviani.
Viviani has been progressing quickly on the track this winter, winning the elimination race at the European Track Championships in October.
Further motivation for Cavendish to ride the Olympics is the return of the Madison to the games, a discipline the Manxman has previously won at World Championship level on multiple occasions.
In September, Cycling Weekly asked Cavendish if he hoped to qualify for Tokyo, but he said “I’m going to focus on what I’m doing right now and see what comes from that.”
But Cavendish, who is joining Bahrain-Merida on the road next season, needs 250 points to qualify so he will have to start racing World Cup events or the World Championships to be in with a chance.
He will also need to overcome the fact that he is a specialist in the Madison and Omnium, but is not a team pursuiter, which makes him less versatile than some of his competition.
Dyer said: “You still want to have five that can rider in the team pursuit, so to have someone who is solely a Madison specialist in there and doesn’t have any other availability isn’t the perfect scenario.”
He added: “The door is open, but it’s extremely challenging to carve out an opportunity.”