Cavendish will not complete the Tour de France, says Shane Sutton

British Cycling technical director on Manxman's road to Rio 2016 Olympics

If Mark Cavendish wishes to race on the track at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, he must rule out finishing the Tour de France this July, according to British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton.

Cavendish closed out the UCI Track World Championships with a world title in the Madison with Bradley Wiggins, having finished sixth overall in the omnium, the event he is hoping to ride at the Olympic Games this summer.

With the Tour de France coming just before the Games, however, the British Cycling coaching staff have made clear to Cavendish that in order to sustain his hopes of gaining selection he must buy into their training progamme. This includes racing the Tour of California in May before another block of training on the track. Crucially, it also involves leaving the Tour de France before the race reaches Paris.

“For sure, he will be at the Tour, 100 per cent. Cav won't do three weeks of the Tour. If he wants to medal, he's well aware that he probably wouldn't be going to Paris,” Sutton said.

Sutton added that discussions with Cavendish’s trade team, Dimension Data, had already been held but that further conversations would take place after Cavendish completed Tirreno-Adriatico next week.

"I'm very close to Brian Smith and Doug [Ryder] and they're very supportive of the venture. It's just a matter of sitting down with Cav and, 'Are we going to do this? Do you want to put yourself forward?', and then the selection panel will come together.

“That’s a discussion between Mark and his team. Then they would come back to us and talk to our coaching plans. Cav has bought into that plan and he wouldn’t be here if they weren’t 100 per cent behind him.”

As for Cavendish not finishing the Tour de France, Sutton added: “I guess as he’s getting older the hills are getting bigger and at the back end of the Tour, I don’t know. Those questions can only be answered when we sit down. If he wants a medal then he’s probably well aware that he won’t be going to Paris.”

Cavendish’s sixth place in the omnium did not match the team’s hopes of a podium finish. Heading into the World Championships, Sutton stated that if Cavendish missed out on a medal in London, then he may take himself out of the selection process for Rio.

Sixth in London for Cavendish was arguably a better performance than his fourth place finish in January’s World Cup event in Japan, considering that the best omnium riders in the world were on show in London.

“We’ll reflect and Cavendish will then decide if he’s worthy of competing for the gold medal because to be honest with you, what’s a bronze medal for him at the Olympics after what he has achieved?” Sutton said. “Gold is what he will be going for and his bar is set quite high.”

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