Mark Cavendish says that an Olympic medal is the only thing missing from what he can win ‘within my physical realm’. He also told The Telegraph how he wouldn’t be lacking motivation when riding for his new road team on account of its links with the Qhubeka charity.
After missing out in the Madison in partnership with Bradley Wiggins in 2008, Cavendish also found himself marked out of the Olympic road race in 2012. He has previously said that he is desperate to win an Olympic medal ‘even if it’s in synchronised swimming.’
"I think an Olympic medal is the only thing missing from what I can physically achieve as a cyclist. I can't win the Tour de France, but I've pretty much won everything else that I can within my physical realm, so that's the only thing missing."
To achieve his goal, he must first earn selection for the omnium – no formality when two-time Olympic team pursuit gold medallist Ed Clancy is planning to race after winning bronze in the event in 2012. Jon Dibben is also vying for the single spot on offer.
The uncertainty has an impact on Cavendish’s preparations as he must also consider his obligations for his new team. "My road season starts at the end of January so I have to get my base miles in, you know. I'm not a track rider. From this year I'm a Team Dimension Data rider and that must come first.”
This of course raises issues in planning his season. “The thing is, with the track, I still have to get selected for the Olympics, so it's not like I've been selected and am basing my season around that."
Nevertheless, he has been fitting in plenty of track sessions – not least because whoever rides the omnium may also need to be ‘fifth man’ for the team pursuit.
"I've been spending a fair bit of time on the track in Manchester, we've been doing squad sessions with the team pursuit boys twice a week in the velodrome and I've done some extra sessions on my own behind the derny. Then I've been in the gym a fair amount bit too, but I need to balance it all with my road riding. This is the first time I've trained properly for the team pursuit since around 2004 or 2005 – 10 years anyway."
Should Cavendish fail to win Olympic selection, it seems he won’t lack motivation for road racing – particularly being as his new team is linked to the Qhubeka charity that supports World Bicycle Relief’s programme in South Africa.
"The Qhubeka charity gives us more of a reason to ride a bike. It's not us just riding with a charity name on the jersey. We're actively trying to get 5,000 bikes for people living in impoverished conditions in Africa. These bikes can help them get to school; get them to hospitals; entrepreneurs if they have to get to the market and stuff like that. Riding for the cause appeals to me.
"It's a great team, you know, they've risen up through the ranks in the last couple of years and I can see that they're going to be one of the biggest teams in the peloton in the next couple of years."
As for road goals, the opening stage of the Tour de France presents an opportunity to wear the yellow jersey for the first time. “Then I'd like to win the road world championship.”