Mark Cavendish says he must deliver in the omnium at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships if he is to have a chance of winning the Olympic medal that has so far eluded his illustrious cycling career.
The Manxman, who has 26 stage wins in the Tour de France to his name, will make his first track worlds appearance since 2009 in London.
"If I can’t get a result at the worlds I can’t at the Olympics so I have a lot to focus on," said Great Britain Cycling Team's Cavendish, who finished fourth in the event at January’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Hong Kong.
The 30-year-old has two world championship gold medals in the Madison, but suffered Olympic disappointment on the track in Beijing and then on the road in London.
Now riding for Team Dimension Data on the road, Cavendish admits he might not be giving track the same attention if he already had an Olympic medal.
“I just want to win an Olympic medal. If I had won one already I don’t know if I would be here, and I probably wouldn’t be putting so much into it. The medal is the only thing that is missing from me as a bike rider.
“I’ve been on the road since the Hong Kong world cup in January so I know my endurance is better, but I wouldn’t be doing the worlds if I didn’t think I could get a result there.
“We had a conversation the other day about the worlds, and I was saying almost half of the worlds I’ve been to I’ve won something, so I never just go and cruise around. I’m always motivated to win and I know what it means to be selected for your country.”
Cavendish won the Tour of Qatar in February, his first win in Team Dimension Data kit since his move in the off-season from Omega Pharma–Quick-Step, while back on the track he will ride the omnium and Madison next week.
Often described as the absolute professional, the 2011 world road champion takes his job as a cyclist extremely seriously and refuses entertain the idea he would race if he could not win.
“Cycling is a job, but it is more than that to us. Without that you wouldn’t be striving to win, and for the team to win, you need to be born with a winning mentality,” Cavendish continued.
“I have always wanted to be the best at everything, needless to say it hasn’t always been the case, and I still love just riding my bike, but the winning is that added incentive.
“I’m a professional cyclist so I wouldn’t say I’m excited to be wearing the GB kit, but I’m definitely proud, because I’ve always been proud to represent my country.”
Despite his success in the early season road races, there is still a lot of work to be done so Cavendish can compete on the track, but ultimately he believes there is only so much that can be done in preparation.
“Anything can happen at competition, even if your numbers are there in training. I’m interested to see what I can do in the bunch races. In Hong Kong there was a decent field but not everyone was there, so to put myself against the best will be crucial to judge where I am,” a determined looking Cavendish stated.
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Watch on TV
BBC and Eurosport will be broadcasting the evening sessions from Wednesday to Saturday and the concluding afternoon session on Sunday. Both broadcasters will also feature repeat, highlights and same day delayed coverage throughout the five days of action.