Mark Cavendish has expressed a desire to return to the track racing in order to fulfil his Olympic gold dream. Cavendish has competed in two consecutive Games but has missed out on a medal on both occasions. However, having watched the Great Britain men’s team win gold and set a world record in the team pursuit on Friday evening, the 27-year-old told Sky Sports News that the 2016 Games in Rio are in his thoughts.
“After seeing it last night, absolutely,” Cavendish said when asked if he wanted to return to the track. He has not raced on the world stage for track racing since the Worlds in 2009. He went on to say:
“Training is hard. It’s monotonous but that’s what you’ve got to do in most sports to get Olympic gold. I watched the guys and saw the camaraderie between them. They live together, they’ve grown as a unit and I looked last night and I thought I want to be part of it again. I’ve been texting with the boys, I’ve been speaking with the coaches this morning and I wouldn’t say it’s past us to return to the track, maybe in 2016.”
Rio’s road race course is expected to be less than sprinter-friendly in comparison to London’s recent parcours and with Cavendish set to be 31 in 2016 the track could provide his last Olympic hope.
“We’ll have to see, the road race doesn’t suit me in 2016 anyway. It’s not going to be a flat race around Rio. I’d love an Olympic gold and I’d love to share that with guys I’ve grown up with. So I’d really like to push for a spot in 2016 on the track.”
As an endurance athlete Cavendish would have the option of aiming at either team pursuit or the omnium. However it’s the pursuit that appears to be Cavendish’s first preference, although he is well aware that any chance of selection would rest on him dedicating his training to specific track requirements.
“Especially on the track it’s become so specific that you can’t just drop in from the road, you really have to prepare for a good year on the track to get used it to. I think it’s worth it, finally, to try and get an Olympic medal. I’d like to be part of the team, part of the team pursuit. I thrive working with others people, gaining trust and working towards something like that.”
Great Britain team pursuit coach Dan Hunt told Cyclingnews that Cavendish may indeed move back to the track but also emphasised that any British rider with track aspirations for Rio would need to devote their ambitions to the velodrome and not the road.
“He’s always welcome. I think that Cav might be interested in riding a world championships, maybe he wants to do to it for Rio, but again team pursuit is a specialist event and it requires a commitment and one that takes you away from the road for a certain amount of time. If anybody is prepared to make that commitment, any British rider, then I would be prepared to say yes and to run them through to Rio.”