The British Olympic Association has named the 26 riders selected for the 2016 Rio Olympics, with Mark Cavendish securing a place in the endurance track team alongside Bradley Wiggins, while Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are named in the men’s road squad. World champion Lizzie Armitstead will be leading the women’s road race team and Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Ed Clancy are anchoring the track squad.
As expected there is no place for Steve Cummings or Dani King in the men’s and women’s road race teams. Pete Kennaugh, Adam Yates and Ian Stannard complete the men’s road ace team with Armitstead supported by Emma Pooley – who is expected to ride the hilly time trial, and cyclo-cross specialist Niki Harris.
Wiggins is a seven-time Olympic medallist and will target gold in the team pursuit in one of the final big events of his career. Other Olympic medallists include Jason Kenny, Ed Clancy, Phillip Hindes and Steven Burke, while Owain Doull and Callum Skinner are set to make their first Olympic appearances. Ryan Owens will also travel to Rio as the team’s accredited rider for the team sprint.
Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell Shand lead the women’s track team alongside world champions Becky James, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker, with Katy Marchant and Ciara Horne completing the women’s track squad. 2013 World Champion and London 2012 finalist Liam Phillips is one of two BMX riders set to compete for Team GB in Rio with Kyle Evans set for his first Olympic appearance. Great Britain will not have any riders in the cross-country mountain bike races.
The track riders will polish their form at a special holding camp in Newport wales before travelling to Rio in early August, with Cavendish and his Dimension Data team still to clarify if he will finish the Tour de France in Paris or leave the race early to join up with the track squad. The men’s road squad will depart after Froome, Thomas, Stannard finish the Tour de France. The Olympic Games begin on August 5, with the road race events held on August 6 and 7.
Cavendish has fought to secure his place in the endurance squad and is expected to be fifth rider in the team pursuit before riding the six-event Omnium. His selection means Andy Tennant is only a reserve.
“I’ve made no secret that my aim is to win an Olympic medal and I’m so pleased to have been given this opportunity,” he said when the team was confirmed. “It’s always a proud moment to be able to pull on a GB jersey and to be able to do so at the Olympic Games is extra special. I’ve given my all to training these past few months and I’m committed to doing my absolute best out in Rio.”
Froome won a silver medal behind Wiggins in the time trial at the London 2012 Games and is targeting gold in 2016. He is likely to ride both the hilly time trial and road race events.
“It is a great honour to be selected to represent Team GB this summer," Froome said. "The Olympics are special for any athlete lucky enough to be given the chance to compete at the Games. I have great memories of London and winning bronze in the time trial. I will be giving it everything I can in Rio to try and win another medal for Great Britain.”
Lizzie Armitstead has built her season around being at her best for Rio and is confident she can perform on the hilly circuit. She won a silver medal in 2012 behind Marianne Vos of the Netherlands, who will be a major rival again this year.
“It’s an honour to have been selected to represent Team GB in Rio for my second Olympic Games. London 2012 was a fantastic event and remains one of my career highlights. I’m looking forward to doing it all over again, and hopefully going one better, in Rio this summer,” she said.
Jason Kenny won gold in the sprint event but has struggled to rediscover his form. However he is confident as Rio approaches.
“This will be my third Olympic Games but it’s still such a special feeling to be selected. Winning Olympic medals is what drives me and everything I do in training is focused on this goal. We’ve had a really good training block at Manchester and we’re now in Valencia fine-tuning our preparations. Speaking on behalf of the male sprint squad, I think we’re in a good place and we’re all ready to race in Rio.”
The door to Olympic participation remains open for Jess Varnish, the sprinter who ignited a firestorm earlier this year that eventually led to the resignation of performance director Shane Sutton. Varnish was removed from the squad in April, but the British Olympic Association and British Cycling have instituted an appeals procedure for riders who are outside the funding system but believe they should have been given a place on the Olympic team. King, who earlier this week decried not being selected for the team, could also benefit from the new appeals process.
The process will have to be complete before teams are presented to the organisers on July 18, according to a report in The Guardian.