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Mark Cavendish to ride Madison at Track Cycling Challenge in bid for Olympic qualification

Team Bahrain McLaren, Mark Cavendish and Mikel Landa
(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Mark Cavendish will forgo Bahrain-McLaren's training camp next week in order to race at the Track Cycling Challenge in Switzerland. The Manxman is looking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games next summer and will take part at both the Scratch Race and Madison at the event, held next week.

 Cavendish was at his new team's launch at McLaren's Technology Centre in Woking earlier this week, telling Cyclingnews that he's "excited and full of confidence" ahead of the 2020 season.

Cavendish, who raced on the track at Six Day events in London and Gent earlier in the off-season, won gold in the Scratch Race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and has been a world champion in the Madison three times.

At the last Olympic Games, held in Rio, Brazil, he took a silver medal in the Omnium after spending the season mixing track and road racing to great effect. The 2016 season, his first with former team Dimension Data, wearing the yellow jersey and winning four stages at the Tour de France.

This time around, qualification looks a tougher prospect for Cavendish, with British Cycling head coach Iain Dyer last week saying that places in the squad are at a premium and the 250 points are needed to qualify for a spot, even taking into account his prior achievements.

"The door is open but it’s extremely challenging to carve out an opportunity at this point," Dyer told the PA News Agency. "He needs 250 points [to qualify] and he's got to do a counting event within the cycle, which would be a World Cup or the World Championships. Opportunities are now flying by which makes that increasingly difficult."

Cavendish's participation in the Swiss event, where he'll race the Madison with Alfie George under the AR Cycling banner, looks to be the beginning of his attempt to qualify for Tokyo. His future plans for racing on the track have yet to be announced.

After this week's round in Brisbane, only one event remains in the UCI Track World Cup, coming in Milton, Canada in late January. The UCI Track World Championships will be held in Berlin, Germany from February 26 to March 1.