Rio 2016: Mark Cavendish wins first Olympic medal, claiming omnium silver
Manxman second behind Italy's Elia Viviani; Laura Trott leads women's omnium overnight; Becky James and Katy Marchant through in sprint
Mark Cavendish claimed his first Olympic medal, finishing second behind Italy’s Elia Viviani in the men’s omnium after an enthralling points race – sealing silver ahead of Denmark’s Lasse Norman Hansen on the very last lap.
Cavendish had committed to winning an Olympic medal this year – one of the few major achievements missing from his palmares – and was rewarded for his persistence after a series of strong performances in the six-event omnium.
The Manxman was subdued in his reaction but admitted he was ‘super happy’ to have claimed silver – Britain’s eighth cycling medal of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Sitting third overnight, Cavendish significantly bettered his World Championships performance in the Kilo Time Trial, with a time of 1.02.868.
Viviani moved into the race lead with a time of 1.02.338, meanwhile, as Cavendish moved levelled on points with France’s Thomas Boudat in second place.
Cavendish then moved clear in second with the flying lap – another big PB of 12.79 bettered only by Dylan Kennett (12.50) and Viviani (12.66)
That left Vivani in first place, 16 points clear of Cavendish, who in turn was 12 points clear of the riders in fourth and fifth.
In the points race, world champion Fernando Gaviria (Colombia) attacked almost from the gun, taking the first sprint points but missing out on gaining a lap.
Cavendish led the chase but found little in the way of support, though he was on the front again as the second sprint approached.
The Manxman led it out, but Vivani came fast from three positions back on the final bend to snatch all five points, to Cavendish’s three.
Vivani continued to ride a canny race in the points race, picking up another point at the next sprint before Lasse Norman Hansen (Denmark) attacked.
Hansen took the next sprint points ahead of Cavendish, and after a huge chase finally gained a lap which pushed the Brit into third place overall.
Roger Kluge (Germany) and Gaviria set off in pursuit, while Cavendish launched his own counter-attack at the next intermediate sprint.
The Manxman’s move was short-lived, however, before he swung down the track and crashed into Park Sang-Hoon (South Korea).
Cavendish stayed upright, but the Korean was not so lucky – crashing out of the race, and taking down Viviani and Glenn O’Shea (Australia) as he hit the deck.
Viviani and O’Shea were back riding as Kluge and Gaviria gained the lap – the Colombian closing the gap to Cavendish in the race for a medal.
As Park was carried away on a stretcher, the race was neutralised, meaning recovery time for those that had gained a lap.
Upon the restart, Cavendish looked to ignite the race but his bronze medal advantage was down to two points overall as they approached the halfway point of the race.
Cavendish’s continued to pick up points consistently – beating Gaviria and Viviani at the next intermediate sprint – but his efforts to break away for a lap were subdued.
He looked to be following Boudat at one stage, but decided not to go with the Frenchman – and then briefly led the way with Hansen and Viviani in a dangerous move but opted not to work as the gap was shut down.
Hansen and Cavendish were level overall at the time, with 189 points to Viviani’s 197 – with New Zealand’s Kennett six points further back.
The Dane gained two more points at the next sprint and attacked again, however – his efforts pushing his medal rivals to the limits.
Cavendish pulled level again at the next sprint though – Viviani taking maximum points – but Hansen was not done there, attacking again with less than 20 laps remaining.
But Cavendish moved into the silver medal position on his own on the next lap, clear of Hansen, as Viviani again won to all but seal his gold medal.
Gaviria was one of three to attack on the next lap, while Viviani rolled off the front – Cavendish choosing to mark Hansen instead.
And the tactics worked – Cavendish sealing his silver medal – the first Olympic medal of his career – by winning the sprint for the line from the bunch and picking up the final point on offer.
Viviani was in tears as he celebrated his overall victory, while Cavendish was subdued in his reaction – admitting it was the knowing gold had been so close.
But having improved on his sixth place at this year’s World Championships, and finally added a medal to his CV, there was much to celebrate for the Manx Missile.
Laura Trott also got her omnium underway, bidding to replicate her victory of four years ago, and made a great start to proceedings as she dropped just two of the maximum 120 points available on the first day.
In the scratch race, she won the race for second place – Tatsiana Sharakova (Belarus) having gained a lap – as Trott led the sprint out from the front.
In the next event, the individual pursuit, Trott charged into the overall lead by posting a time of 3.25.05 – nearly two seconds faster than second-placed Sarah Hammer (USA).
Trott rode a canny race in the elimination race, meanwhile, getting her tactics spot on to move into a head-to-head for first place with Belgium’s Jolien d’Hoore.
Hammer finished third, despite regularly finding herself at the back for the sprint, but Trott ensured she holds a decent lead overall by winning the final sprint to the line to ensure back-to-back wins.
D’Hoore is eight points back in second place, and Hammer ten points behind Trott in third at the halfway stage.
In the women’s sprint, the other event to take place on the day, Becky James and Katy Marchant continued their progress in the afternoon session – James beating Virginie Cueff (France) and Marchant defeating Miriam Welte (Germany).
Australia’s defending champion Anna Meares, at her final Games, was knocked out in the repechage, having ended up in same heat as world champion Zhong Tianshi, meanwhile.
Tianshi’s victory booked her a best of three showdown with James, while Marchant was through to face Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaitė.
The women’s sprint medals, the women’s omnium and the men’s keirin will be the final medals to be decided on the track at these Games, with all three finals set for Tuesday evening.
Rio 2016 Olympic Games: track cycling – men’s omnium
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