LIDO DI CAMAIORE, Italy (VN) — Team Dimension Data says Mark Cavendish can manage his road and Olympic dreams after his performance in last weekend’s track world championships in London.
Cavendish started the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race Wednesday in Italy in preparation for Milano-Sanremo. He will then take aim at the Tour de France and if selected, the omnium at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
“He’ll start,” team manager Brian Smith said of Milano-Sanremo, to be held March 19. “He’s a favorite and could potentially win again. It’s important for him. We are still a ways from the Olympics. There’s distance in the event, but it’s not a brutal event. I don’t think it’ll take a lot out of him.
“It’s not too difficult [to balance the road and track plans] if we work together, which we are. I have a good relationship with [British Cycling’s technical director] Shane Sutton. We will do what’s best for Mark Cavendish, which is also good for our sponsors because I think our sponsors would like to have an Olympic champion as well.”
Cavendish is aiming to add an Olympic gold medal to his palmarès that already includes 26 Tour de France stage wins, the 2009 Milano-Sanremo title, the 2011 world road race championship, and several other wins. He’s come up short twice before: In 2008, he raced the Madison in Beijing with Bradley Wiggins and in 2012, he led Great Britain in the London road race.
This year, he wants to represent Great Britain in the omnium. First, however, the national selectors must decide if he should race after placing sixth in the London worlds on Saturday when finishing on the podium was the goal. The spot could go to another rider, who would also serve as the fifth man in Great Britain’s powerful team pursuit.
“Given his race calendar, he prepared little for the track because the road is where he makes his money,” added Smith. “It was always going to be very difficult to have a start of the year like he did and then jump into the world championships with very little time on his low-profile bike. He will need to prepare a lot more for the Olympics. His numbers were good, his performances were good and it was topped off with a crazy Madison with Brad Wiggins. They just blew the roof off.”
Cavendish is due to let he selectors know in the next week if he wants to continue with his Olympic dream. He must also juggle responsibilities with new his Dimension Data team, which signed him to a lucrative contract for this season. Smith believes everything is possible, even racing three weeks of the Tour and then traveling to Rio for the two-day omnium that starts three weeks later on August 14. However, Smith said he is open to letting his sprint star leave the Tour early.
“If Mark feels good, he can take the [road and track] load. If he goes for the yellow jersey and has a great Tour at the start and wins stages, then we will look at it. If he doesn’t win stages early on, then we really will have to look at it. It’s not going to be an easy decision. We will do what’s best for Mark and for British Cycling.”