British Cycling men’s endurance coach Dan Hunt says he would be delighted if Mark Cavendish made the decision to return to the track to seek selection for Great Britain’s team pursuit squad for the Rio Olympic Games.
Hunt oversaw the process which accumulated in a gold medal in the event at the London Games with Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Pete Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas breaking the world record on their way to the top of the podium.
With Clancy now focusing on the team sprint and Geraint Thomas on his road career with Team Sky, opportunities are available for those wishing to ride the event in Rio and Hunt has already discussed the possibility with British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider and 2011 road world champion Cavendish, although he added that there was no rush to make a decision.
"If he wants to ride team pursuit the door is massively wide open."
British Cycling men’s endurance coach Dan Hunt
“I had a chat with Mark at the Games,” Hunt said. “I’m delighted to hear he wants to come back and try for the team pursuit, I think that’s really positive.
“Obviously it takes a certain commitment for a certain amount of time but he’s expressed that if he went down that route that’s what he’d be prepared to do. So if he wants to ride team pursuit the door is massively wide open.
“With three years or two years to go, that’s when we need to start moving things on the ground,” Hunt added when asked when a choice would be need to be made.
Before his huge success on the road with HTC Highroad and Team Sky, Cavendish won a world championship on the track in 2005 with Rob Hayles in the madison whilst on the British Cycling Academy before repeating the feat in 2008 with Bradley Wiggins - but the pair missed out on a medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Currently, Hunt is preparing for the Glasgow track world cup with a number of British Cycling Olympic Programme athletes in the mix for team pursuit selection to compete at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in November.
After winning both the world championship title and Olympic gold in the team pursuit, the new season will be heavily weighted on offering experience to younger riders, the onus on a long-term strategy and not short-term wins with the target of building a competitive group of riders from which to select from when Rio arrives.
“The team pursuit is kind of a rebuild job potentially, so whilst we may be expected to win, we’re not expecting to win the world championships or world cups,” Hunt stressed.
“This is a young team and part of a four year journey. If you look back at the last Olympic cycle we didn’t win the worlds in 2009, 2010, 2011, we won in 2012 and won the Olympics and that’s what this programme is about. If we want to win the worlds this year then we need to go back and get the Olympic team, but that’s not the aim of the programme.
“We want sustainable success, we want youngsters in the first couple of years to build up to a good level, then bring back the older guys but have the youngsters at such a level where the older guys have to fight to get back into the team. That’s what raises their game.”