Mark Cavendish has praised the support of Bradley Wiggins after he was named in the Great Britain track team for the Rio 2016 Olympics on Friday. The Manxman will compete in the Omnium in Brazil and will also serve as the reserve for the British team pursuit effort.
Cavendish returned to the boards in earnest this past winter, and he claimed gold in the Madison with Wiggins at the World Track Championships in London in March. The pair had also competed together in the Madison in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when Cavendish was the only member of the British track team to emerge from the Games without a medal. The Madison is no longer part of the Olympic track programme.
“We’ve been through so much together since we first rode the Olympics together in Beijing and actually he’s kind of been my rock. He’s been the guy that I can honestly say that without him, I don’t know if I’d have been able to make it. He’s supported me emotionally. He’s like my brother,” Cavendish said of Wiggins in an interview with Sky Sports on Friday.
Like Cavendish, Wiggins eschewed the track at the London 2012 Olympics, where he claimed gold in the time trial just 10 days after becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France. After leaving Team Sky for the nascent Wiggins team last year, Wiggins has turned his attention to the track, and he is seeking a fifth Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit in Rio.
“He’s kind of new back into it as well. He’s not been on the track at the Olympics since Beijing, he did the road in London. It’s kind of new for him to come back into the group, so we kind of had each other,” Cavendish said. “Most of the lads ride for his team so we gelled as a unit, and all that pressure he had with Team Sky is kind of gone and you just see a different Brad. When he’s relaxed, he’s the most incredible person in the world to be around.”
Cavendish placed 6th in the omnium at this year’s Track Worlds, though he showed signs of improvement in the individual pursuit during his victory in the omnium at the recent Panevežy event in Lithuania.
The Manxman will race the Tour de France in the colours of Dimension Data – it remains to be seen if he will complete the race – before turning his attention to the omnium in Rio, which takes place on August 14 and 15.
“I'm super excited. Over the moon. I said a couple of years ago that I wanted to go and track was the only way,” Cavendish said. “I've put so much in the last year and I am super happy the selectors picked me. The team is gelling well together and the boys have been behind me, that's the main thing. It's important we go like a team and that's the way we will come back with gold medals.
"This is kind of the only thing I haven't got. I've achieved everything I can do apart from a gold medal. It's always nice to represent Great Britain and to ride with friends - these are guys I've been with since I was a kid."