Cavendish (Dimension Data) has returned to the track in recent months in a bid to win an Olympic medal that has thus far eluded him, and the Rio Games this summer are sandwiched by two equally monumental events on the road – the Tour de France in July and the World Championships in October.
Viviani, who will be one of Cavendish’s main threats when it comes to the Omnium in Rio – if indeed the Manxman bags the sole slot for Team GB – reckons his rival may be hampered by the nature of his tasks.
“I think it’s too much,” Viviani told Cyclingnews and a small group of journalists at Team Sky’s training camp in Mallorca on Tuesday.
“The Tour de France is so close to the Olympics. After the Tour you have a really good condition. For sure he has the endurance for the points race but it could cost him in the kilo. At the Olympics you can’t afford to pay too much in the kilo because if you lose 20 points in the kilo… you’re not out, but yeah…
“You need to be 100 per cent in all six specialties, so it’s more difficult, I think, to have all those focuses.”
Viviani, who is the reigning European Omnium champion and was third at the World Championships in February and the Cali leg of the World Cup in November, will himself focus on the road up until the Giro d’Italia, after which he’ll spend over two months doing track specific work. The 26-year-old, who said he was intrigued to see what shape Cavendish is in when it comes to elite racing at the upcoming Hong Kong leg of the World Cup, reckons his approach might make the difference.
“He [Cavendish] has done a lot of track in the past and I think it’s easy to come back, but you need to work a lot for the specifics of the Omnium in the month, or two months, before the big focus,” said the Team Sky rider. “I think he can be confident but he needs to focus solely on this.”
Viviani did offer comments that will be more pleasing to Cavendish’s ears, claiming that the Dimension Data rider is king of the sprinting world at this moment in time. Cavendish had a strong year in 2015, winning 13 times, though that total was bettered by Alexander Kristoff and André Greipel.
“I think Cavendish is again the best sprinter in the world right now,” said the Italian.
“I thought about this a few months ago, when I saw Cav on the track, I said, ‘yeah he’s won everything’. Everything a sprinter dreams about, Cav has won it all.
“I think he’s the best again. Also with the new team maybe he can win a lot in the season. I think Kittel now has the strongest sprint – if everything goes right in the sprint, I think he is the strong one, but I think Cav is the best.”