Mark Cavendish said he will take time before considering going for another medal on the track at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, pointing out the sacrifices he and his family have made this year to combine his professional road racing career with the time need to train with Great Britain on the track.
Cavendish will be 35 in 2020, a year younger than Bradley Wiggins, who won his fifth gold medal in Rio at the age of 36. Despite their brotherly rivalry, Cavendish told BBC television and BBC radio that it will be difficult for him to combine his road racing career and track ambitions in the years to come. Cavendish will soon return to road racing with his Dimension Data team and has been confirmed for the Tour of Britain, where he will clash with Andre Greipel in the sprints.
"The only thing I haven't done is win gold. I've got my medal but I haven't won gold. It doesn't eat at me but I love representing Great Britain and every four years at the Olympics is the best stage to do it on," Cavendish said in an interview with the BBC after returning to Britain from Rio.
"At the end of the day I've got to go back to my day job on the road, and qualification of the Olympic doesn't start for two years, so I've got two years to contemplate it anyway."
"If it was doing like Brad did and stopping on the road, that's one thing but there's no way I can combine my road and track careers again. It took a lot of energy."
Cavendish missed out on a medal in the Madison event in Beijing 2008 and in the road race in 2012 in London. He targeted the omnium this year, winning a silver medal behind Italy's Elia Viviani just three weeks after leaving the Tour de France with four stage victories.
During the winter of 2015 and the 2016 season Cavendish spent time training on the track between blocks of road racing with his Dimension Data team. His track work seemed to help him win the sprints at the Tour de France and is fuelled by national pride but meant he had little time for his family.
"It's been hard work. I was riding the Tour de France and then came to the Olympics. On the track, we're still on bikes but it's a different sport. It's the same as Andy Murray going and playing squash. It's a racket sport but it's a little bit different. That's kind of what I was doing," he explained.
"Brad stopped road racing to go on the track and prepare for it, but for me to stop riding the Tour de France and two weeks later go to the Olympics really took a lot of balanced time for the last two years. While doing my job and racing on the road, I've had to keep chipping away at the track. That means I haven't been home. My wife's been a single mum for the last year."
Me and Brad are like brothers
Cavendish shared a room with Wiggins at the athletes' village in Rio. The two often swap barbs via the media, with Cavendish revealing he would not ride in the team pursuit, saying Wiggins "wants to be the hero and all that" in an interview with Sky Sports. His comments sparked a series of stories in the British tabloid media and forced the Great Britain to deny any kind of rift.
Cavendish now claims his comment was taken out of context and gave more insight into his relationship with Wiggins.
"It was probably a slow news day," he suggested. "If you see the interview, when something is said with a smile, its completely different to (in the) print press, you can take whatever context you want and that's all what was done really."
"We've been through the highest parts of our career together and ultimately we all got medals. The guys won the team pursuit and I got silver in the omnium.
"Me and Brad are like brothers, if I see him lying on his bed, I take a photo… Watch our tabloid press will use that for something now," he said.
"That's how it is. We're actually absolutely fine."