Mark Cavendish’s Tour de France and Olympic dream “too much”, says rival

Sprint and track rival Elia Viviani doesn't think Mark Cavendish can be competitive at the Olympics after the Tour de France

Elia Viviani, Revolution round 5 January 2016
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

Team Sky sprinter and endurance track specialist Elia Viviani thinks that Mark Cavendish’s ambition to wear the yellow jersey of the Tour de France and win Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro will be too difficult a challenge for the Manxman to pull off.

Last week Cavendish outlined his aim to win the opening stage of the Tour and gold in the omnium in Brazil, but Viviani, who has also set his sights on Olympic omnium gold, thinks the two events will prove “too much” for Cavendish.

“I think the Tour de France is so close to the Olympic Games,” Viviani said at Sky’s training camp in Majorca. “He can do it [compete] because after the Tour you have really good condition, if you recover well, and he will have the endurance for the points race. But he will pay [suffer] in the kilo.

“I think in the Olympics you can’t afford to pay in the kilo. The Olympic [omnium] is always for the win and nobody will be helping anybody. It’s the only race that you need to be 100% in every speciality.”

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Viviani, 26, finished sixth in the omnium at London 2012 and plans to tackle the Giro d’Italia this season before spending two months on the track training for the Olympic Games.

“I saw Mark in the Revolutions and he has good form,” Viviani added. “He’s done a lot of track in the past so I think it’s easy to come back, but you need to work a lot - specific work - in the omnium that you need to come back two months before the big focus.”

The Italian, who won his first Giro stage last year, explained that training on the track would give riders like himself Cavendish the sort of speed, explosive peak power and timing that is crucial to winning bunch sprints.

He believes that Cavendish’s renewed focus on the track will help the British rider regain his position as top sprinter in the road peloton with his new team Dimension Data this year after a relatively disappointing 2015.

“I think Cavendish is the best sprinter in the world right now,” Viviani said. “I thought about this a few months ago, when I saw Cav on the track [I thought] he will win everything. I think he is the best again and I think with the new team he can be back to winning a lot in the season.

“Potentially [Marcel] Kittel has the best, the strongest sprint, if all goes well. But I think Cav is the best one again.”

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Richard Abraham is an award-winning writer, based in New Zealand. He has reported from major sporting events including the Tour de France and Olympic Games, and is also a part-time travel guide who has delivered luxury cycle tours and events across Europe. In 2019 he was awarded Writer of the Year at the PPA Awards.