Cavendish secures impressive silver on his track comeback in Rio
Cycling Track

Cavendish secures impressive silver on his track comeback in Rio

16 August 2016 / 08:04

On July 16th - just one month ago - Mark Cavendish won stage 14 of the Tour de France, his fourth of this year’s edition and 30th of all time.

He was in imperious form and just four triumphs away from tying Eddy Merckx’s all-time Tour de France stage wins record - Paris and the sprinters’ showpiece on the Champs Elysees was calling.

But on July 19th he had packed his bags and was heading home – such was his desire to claim that elusive Olympic medal.

And just 27 days later his decision to swap Paris for Newport and the Wales, for some intense Rio preparation on the track, was justified as he claimed Olympic Games silver.

It might not have been the gold medal an ultra competitive Cavendish was craving, but few could doubt the effort and desire he has put in simply to climb an Olympic podium.

Cavendish kisses DGC

Two failed attempts and eight years later Cavendish can finally call himself an Olympic medallist, but he insists he didn’t do it all on his own.

"Great Britain have rushed the medals here and it is easy to say that we have got the best bike riders in the world,” said Cavendish.

“But I think it has been forgotten a bit these last days that we do have the best staff too, with the data analysts, the nutritionists, the mechanics – everybody has just done everything.

“It is a massive team and one that really wants to win.

“It is quite emotional and it is massive for me because I needed those people. This was only my third international omnium so I needed those people to make sure I made every step right.

“Especially my coach Rod [Ellingworth]. He was doing it as a mate, it is not his job and I owe him a big thanks.”

The omnium is essentially cycling’s heptathlon, only played out on two wheels and with one less discipline.

Mark Cavendish and coach

It has the ability to throw up surprise after surprise and the Rio 2016 edition was no difference, with Cavendish looking more and more comfortable in the chaotic surroundings as he ticked the disciplines off.

Following the opening day Cavendish sat third after three events, a mistake in the elimination race, which saw him cycle out of bounds, perhaps costing him in the end.

He stayed third after finishing sixth in the time trial the next morning, before following that up with another third in flying lap to move into second and set up a thrilling points race.

And the finale didn’t disappoint with a crash – which Cavendish admitted was his fault – and the Brit being heavily watched to see if he would make a move to try and gain a lap, and with it 20 crucial points.

But in the end Cavendish did enough to hold on to silver with Dane Lasse Norman Hansen ending up with bronze just two points further back.

Gold went to Italian Elia Viviani and Cavendish admitted he could have few complaints.

“At the end of the day I did everything I could to prepare for the race and everything I could in the race and ultimately I couldn’t have done anymore,” he said.

“I have to be happy. Elia was the better over the six disciplines and ultimately deserved gold.

“Obviously I am disappointed not to win but I did all I could and the guys behind me did all I could.

“I made every day count and on another day I might have been closer to gold, but I have to be happy.

“The thing about the omnium is you have to be consistent and Elia was consistent across all six disciplines.

“Normally elimination is my strongest event and the pursuit is my weakest but I was second in that so it is swings and roundabouts really.”

And what about Tokyo 2020 and a fourth crack at a gold medal?

“It’s questions like that that makes me not what to do it, I don’t think I can put up with journalists asking me for another four years if I am going for gold in Tokyo, as I still don’t have one,” Cavendish quipped.

Fair enough, we’ll let him make a decision further down the line. But one thing is for sure, when Cavendish’s mind is made up he is going to do whatever he can to see it through, as August 15th proved.

From Ben Baker, Sportsbeat, in Rio

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