Ahead of the Olympic track programme starting in Rio later today, British Cycling’s programmes director Andy Harrison has rejected claims that Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins have fallen out.
Harrison, who assumed charge of the national team on a temporary basis after technical director Shane Sutton’s resignation in April over allegations of bullying and discrimination, was responding to coverage of a Sky Sports interview with Cavendish earlier this week, with some elements of the press suggesting all was not well between him and Wiggins.
Cavendish left the Tour de France early after winning four stages to prepare for Rio, where he will ride the omnium, but he also had hopes of riding in at least one round of the team pursuit, which starts this evening.
He said that Wiggins, seeking a fifth Olympic gold medal, was “super-stressed” and “wants to be the hero.”
Barring illness or injury to one of the other four riders in the men’s endurance squad, Cavendish is not likely to ride in any of the rounds of the team pursuit, for which Team GB, said to be quicker than world record pace in training, are expected to fight Australia for gold.
Should he ride in any round, Cavendish would be entitled to a medal if Team GB secured one, whereas the six-event omnium is seen as more of a lottery.
Harrison insisted however that there were “no issues” between the men’s endurance squads two star riders, who secured Madison gold at the world championships in London in March, although in 2008, the last time it was an Olympic event, they finished out of the medals.
“For the last two or three weeks Brad and Cav have been very much in close proximity with each other, they roomed together in Newport for two weeks, they’ve sat next to each other at training over the last couple of days and observing them in the village there’s no issues,” explained Harrison, quoted in the Guardian.
“These are two of the greatest riders Britain has ever produced and they’ve both got big personalities and, to be honest, I’m more interested in what they do on the bike rather than what they say in public,” he added.
The departure of Sutton amid allegations from riders including Jess Varnish, who was dropped from the Olympic programme after Great Britain failed to secure qualification for the team sprint, has overshadowed Team GB’s preparations for Rio, with an independent review currently being conducted.
The focus in Brazil this evening will be on three events in which Team GB won gold in London four years ago, including the qualification rounds for the men’s and women’s team pursuits.
Nine countries will line up in both the men’s and women’s qualifiers tonight, with only those posting the four fastest times having a chance to ultimately progress to the gold medal races which are on Friday for the men and Sunday for the women.
One event will be decided tonight – the men’s team sprint, where London 2012 gold medallists Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny will be joined by Callum Skinner in place of the now retired Sir Chris Hoy.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.