Mark Cavendish has been told that he needs to secure a medal in the Omnium at the UCI Track World Championships in London next week if he is to secure the Team GB place in the event at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer.
Twice a world champion on the track in the Madison, and also winner of a rainbow jersey on the road in 2011, the 30-year-old is targeting the event to secure the Olympic medal currently missing from his palmares.
But he faces competition for the one place per country available for the Omnium from Ed Clancy, who secured bronze in the six-race event at London 2012, and Jon Dibben.
British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton told BBC Sport: "If he can't make the top three, he would pursue his dreams of the Tour de France yellow jersey," referring to Stage 1 of July’s race which is likely to finish in a sprint at Utah Beach in Normandy.
"I believe he can do it, we wouldn't have selected him otherwise. That's not us being brutal, that's Cav being Cav, probably the greatest road sprinter of all time. He needs to know he can go to Rio and get the medal."
However, Great Britain’s men’s endurance coach, Heiko Salzwedel, said he had doubts that the Dimension Data rider could combine riding the Tour de France with a successful attempt on the Omnium in Rio.
"If you ask me realistically, riding for two or three weeks on the Tour de France, he might be fit for the [Olympic] road race but not for the Olympic omnium," he explained.
"Cav has to digest and make a decision about this,” he added.
In 2008, Cavendish cut short his participation in the Tour de France, where he had won four stages, to travel to Beijing where he partnered Sir Bradley Wiggins in the Madison.
The pair were reigning world champions in the event at the time but finished out of the medals. They will ride the Madison in London next week, although it is no longer an Olympic event.
> Cavendish confirmed for Omnium at Worlds – will also partner Wiggins in Madison
Four years ago, Cavendish began the road race at London 2012 as favourite, but despite Team GB controlling most of the race was distanced on the final ascent of Box Hill as a strong group of around 30 riders got away.
Last month, he finished fourth in the Omnium at the Track World Cup in Hongkong.
He amassed 147 points, 34 behind the winner, Thomas Boudat of France, on 181 points. Denmark’s
Lasse Norman Hansen, the reigning Olympic champion, was second on 175 points and the Kazakh rider Artyom Zakharov third with 172 points.
Among riders missing from that event was Team Sky’s Italian sprinter Elia Viviani, who took bronze at last year’s World Championships and who is expected to mount a strong challenge in Brazil this summer.
> Cav helps out London cyclist - by fixing puncture
Meanwhile it has been revealed that the velodrome in Rio that will host this summer’s competition is unlikely to be finished in time for a test event to be held.
Originally, the test event had been scheduled for mid-March, but was subsequently pushed back to the end of April.
> Track cycling test events in Rio postponed due to unlaid track
But UCI president Brian Cookson has admitted the governing body is concerned over the continued delays.
He told the website Inside the Games: “I have to say it is causing us some concern, there is no doubt we will have a velodrome built and ready by Rio, but time is running out to put on a decent test event now.
“The building has to be watertight, airtight and air conditioned before the track can be put in place.
“It is to ensure the right atmospheric, temperature and moisture conditions to ensure the track does not have any problems from the timbers, weathering or settling into place.
“These are important considerations, timber is a natural material so needs to be treated perfectly to ensure you get the perfect results.”
“I am confident the builders know what they are doing, but time is getting tight now,” he added.
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