The Dimension Data rider will compete in the six-event Omnium as he steps up his hunt for a place in the same event at the Rio Olympic Games. He will also take to the London boards with Bradley Wiggins in the Madison event. The pair won the Madison world title at the World Championships back in 2008.
This season Cavendish has made no secret of his ambitions to win an Olympic medal at the Rio Games, with the Omnium seen as his most likely path to team selection. He finished fourth in the Hong Kong round of the UCI Track World Cup in January – a performance that earned him the needed qualification points for Worlds. If he is selected as Great Britain’s Omnium rider for the Olympic Games then he will also be part of Great Britain's five-man team pursuit squad due to the complex rider allocation rules at every Olympics.
“Winning stages and races in the Middle East, you can let those things happen and come to you but the Olympics is something he has to make happen,” Team GB technical director Shane Sutton told Cyclingnews.
“I think that if he hadn’t put himself up for selection, and someone else took the spot and performed well then it would have been hard not to select them for Rio. Off the back of Hong Kong I think Mark has realised that he needs to bite the bullet and ride the Worlds. He wants it, and remember that the Omnium place will be the fifth pursuiter in Rio. I think that he can do that and I’m confident in his selection for the Worlds. It’s now down to him, while we have two able replacements in Jon Dibben and Chris Latham.”
Cavendish, who recently won a stage and the overall in the Tour of Qatar, has used the Manchester velodrome as a training base during the winter, and along with a road training camp with the national team, he has enjoyed a relatively calm build-up to the season.
Ed Clancy, who is a three times an Olympic medallist and who claimed bronze in the Omnium four years ago in London has been passed over this time around after a long layoff due to injury. However there is a spot for him on the team pursuit in London and Sutton told Cyclingnews that the coaches and medical staff would monitor each rider carefully during the remaining weeks before the London Worlds.
As for Cavendish, the ball is firmly in his court. Should he reach Sutton’s expectations, and medal in the Omnium in London, then his chances of making the Olympic Games squad will have moved a step closer.
“We saw enough in Hong Kong to justify his selection for Worlds. We saw the speed across the line in the flying lap and he showed his tactical nous in the scratch race. He didn’t have a big build up and he was a little bit short in one or two events but given he was away from track for such a long time I think he’s moved on."
“At the Worlds he has to be in contention when going into that final points race, for sure. To cement and Olympic spot he will want to medal in Worlds. At the same time if he thinks that he can’t deliver then I think that he will put his hand up and say so. He’s got to take responsibility and he’s got to make this happen.”
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