Great Britain’s track programme would welcome Mark Cavendish back into the fold should the rider decide to target the track events at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Cavendish has spoken openly about the possibility of returning to the track in Rio but has yet to make an official decision. However, according to Shane Sutton, British Cycling have left the door open for the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider, should he decide to aim for an Olympic medal.
“Cav hasn’t come out and said exactly what he wants to do but the Omnium opens doors for the likes of him, Ben Swift and obviously Jon Dibben who has ridden well this year. That keeps a bit of upward pressure and it keeps John on his toes but as far as Cavendish goes the door is open for him but it’s just a matter of whether he wants to walk through it or not,” Sutton told Cyclingnews.
Cavendish represented Great Britain on the track at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but left the Games empty handed. He targeted the road race in London 2012 but once again came up short. In December of last year he expressed an indication that a return to the track could be on the roads but stressed that it must fit with his road programme.
“He has the pedigree and won almost everything you can think about winning on the track and on the road but it’s up to Mark. We’ll keep the door open for him, it’s just a case of whether he walks through it,” added Sutton.
Sutton added that he and British Cycling had attempted to lure Cavendish back but that they would not exert any form of pressure on the rider.
“We’ve tried to encourage Mark but you’re talking about one of the greats of the sport here, and the demands on him are massive, so for us to put demands on him and to nag away at him to come back and try and win the Omnium, that’s not the way we work.
"We’re a support service to all these athletes and Mark knows that the support is there if it’s needed. If he wants to come in we’ll be 100 per cent behind him and deliver whatever he needs.”
Should Cavendish eventually decide on racing a track programme in 2016, he will of course need to qualify. According to Sutton, “he needs to start now and he’s already looking at that but it’s all down to Mark.”