Cavendish ups Olympic selection bid with Omnium win in Lithuania

Briton dominates in six-race event

Mark Cavendish upped his game for selection to the British team for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, winning the omnium in this weekend's meeting in Panevežys, Lithuania.

Cavendish began the weekend with a second place in the Scratch race to Switzerland's Gaël Suter, then followed up with an uncharacteristic victory in the Individual Pursuit. He ended the first day with the win in the Elimination Race.

On the second day, his compatriot Kian Emadi won the kilometer time trial and flying lap, while Cavendish finished third in both. Cavendish went into the final points race with a ten point advantage on Suter, and 20 on Suter's teammate Olivier Beer.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Cavendish won six of the 15 mid-race sprints, lapped the field with Suter and then won the final sprint to take a commanding victory by 26 points over Suter.

With the road course in Rio unsuited to him, Cavendish has turned his focus to the track. Cavendish last raced the track in the Olympics in 2008, when he and Madison partner Bradley Wiggins were the favourites for victory after claiming the world title that year, but were only able to manage ninth in Beijing. Subsequently, the UCI removed the Madison from the Olympic programme, leaving the Omnium as the most logical event for him to qualify.

Cavendish and Wiggins won the Madison at the World Championships earlier this year.

Cavendish still has an uphill battle to face to be in medal contention in Rio, should he make the selection. His former trade teammate Fernando Gaviria was electric in the Omnium finale at Worlds in London this year, while Roger Kluge, Glenn O'Shea, Elia Viviani and defending Olympic champion Lasse Norman Hansen have been consistent finishers over the course of their careers. All finished ahead of Cavendish at the World Championships, and none were present in Lithuania this weekend.

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