Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) has told Cyclingnews that his preferred partner for the Madison at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games would be Geraint Thomas.
Cavendish, who is a three-time Madison world champion, is currently recovering from a shoulder injury after crashing out of the Tour de France earlier this month. He is expected to be back on the road and training in the coming weeks, with the Tour of Britain and the UCI Road World Championships in Norway on his agenda.
With the Madison back in the Olympic programme after its omission from London and Rio, Cavendish has been provided with a huge incentive to prolong his racing career. In an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews – due to be released as a podcast on Monday – Cavendish admitted that he briefly considered hanging up his wheels upon completing his current contract at Dimension Data – which expires at the end of 2018 – until deciding to aim for the Madison in Tokyo.
"Before the announcement of the Madison in Tokyo I didn't think that I'd be doing more than two or three more years," he told Cyclingnews.
"I even thought about maybe stopping at the end of this contract, maybe. When the Madison was announced in Tokyo… I'm three times World Champion. I have to go. I'd be stupid not to. That's in 2020. Then when I look at where I was at the Tour de France with just six weeks training, I realised that I've still got an ability. I don't think that I'm slowing down anytime soon."
Cavendish, who won a silver medal in the Omnium at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, has already been contacted by riders wishing to ride the Madison with him in 2020. However, when asked by Cyclingnews who his preferred partner would be, the former road world champion paused before naming Team Sky's Geraint Thomas. The pair came through the ranks at the same time and rode their first Tour de France together in 2007 – albeit on different teams. Although their careers have gone in different paths – Cavendish has become the sprinter of his generation and Thomas has been successful on the track and in stage races – the Dimension Data rider believes that they would make the ideal team.
"I think we'd be a wicked pairing," he said. "I think we compliment each other really well. We raced as juniors and then U23s together but if he's riding Tour de France GC in 2020 then I'm not going to be doing it with him."
Regaining full fitness
Cavendish's short-term plans are centred around regaining full fitness. The crash at the Tour de France injured the same shoulder he landed on at the 2014 Tour and, although he has made progress in recent weeks, he is not rushing back to competitive cycling in case he does any lasting damage to what is an extremely delicate injury. He is set to race the Tour of Britain in September, although it is not yet certain as to whether that could be his first race back.
"I just have to wait for these next scans. I spoke to my surgeon on Wednesday and he thinks it [returning to training -ed] could be sooner than the original three weeks. I'd like to get out on the roads as soon as possible."
Cavendish has been able to train at home and has linked up with Zwift in order to remain as fit as possible.
"I thought that I'd give it a go and I've really fallen in love with it. It makes an hour or two go so fast, so quick, and it's sociable. You find yourself getting competitive so I'll go for the King of the Mountains, which is quite hard with one hand, but I'm always trying to race. It's going to change my perception of training indoors," he said.