Mark Cavendish says he is keeping his options open about the possibility of riding the omnium on the track at the 2016 Olympic Games after announcing his intention to compete in the opening round of the 2015/16 Revolution Series in Derby this weekend.
The 26-time Tour de France stage winner will use the Revolution meeting to target UCI qualification points, with riders needing to accumulate 90 UCI track ranking points by September 15 to qualify to race next winter’s World Cup and World Championship events.
An Olympic medal is a significant omission from Cavendish’s palmares, having missed out at Beijing 2008 when he finished ninth in the madison with Sir Bradley Wiggins, despite the pair being favourites for gold, and finishing 29th in the road race at London 2012.
And while Cavendish insists his focus remains on the road with Etixx-QuickStep, the 30-year-old isn’t ruling out a return to the track in a bid to secure an Olympic medal in Rio, where the road race course is likely to be too hilly for a pure sprinter of Cavendish’s talent.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on track and trying the Omnium,” said Cavendish, who has been training on the board in preparation for the event. “I’ve always maintained that my focus is my performances on the road as a professional rider for Etixx-QuickStep. However if there was any chance, however small, that I could be in a position to go for an Olympic medal in Rio then I have to keep all of my options open.
“No definitive decisions have been made yet, so I will try to do this through picking up qualification points in the omnium fitted around my road racing schedule. The omnium is a tough event with all the different disciplines so Derby will be a good test and we’ll see how things progress from there.”
The omnium, which was introduced to the Olympic schedule in 2012, when Ed Clancy won bronze in the men’s event and Laura Trott secured gold in the women’s event, sees riders compete in six disciplines over two days: a scratch race, individual pursuit, elimination race, time trial, flying lap and points race. As well as riding the omnium in Derby, Cavendish is also expected to contest the madison with Wiggins.
Cavendish and Wiggins will be among a number of star riders to race over the weekend, with Clancy, Trott, Jason Kenny and Joanna Rowsell all set to start their 2015/16 track seasons at the Derby Arena.
And while the Olympics is still a year away, British Cycling’s endurance head coach Heiko Salzwedel says the event will help establish a “pecking order” within the track squad ahead of the winter and, ultimately, next summer’s Games.
“The Derby Revolution event is a very important milestone in our preparations for the Olympic Games in 2016,” said Salzwedel.
“We have two purposes for the event. One is of course collecting UCI points which will let our riders qualify for the World Championship in London next year, but the other is to establish a pecking order within Team GB – we’re looking to determine who is our number one rider, who is our number two rider for each event.
“The dates for the event are no coincidence, this is a chance to try out our preparations for the Games next year – it’s a trial run.”