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Cavendish makes return to the track as he competes in scratch and Madison events at International Belgian Open in Gent

Gathering enough UCI points to race in world cup events - but does this signify an intent to ride track at Rio?

Mark Cavendish has made a return to the track - finishing second in his opening race at the International Belgian Open in Gent. His return to the boards comes a little more than a week before he lines up for his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team at the Tour of Britain.

He led the last lap of the 15km scratch event but just missed out on the line, in his first outing on the track in more than a year - save for three days’ training at the Manchester Velodrome earlier this week.

The race allows him to keep alive his chances of competing on the track in Rio at the 2016 Olympics, following a rule change meaning riders must qualify for World Cup events.

With Cavendish not riding either the Vuelta a Espana or the Road World Championships in Florence, he is taking the opportunity to start racking up enough UCI track points to compete in World Cup races.

He has not represented Great Britain on the track since the 2009 World Championships in Poland.

Referring to his return to the track, Cavendish told Cycling Weekly: "At least doing this gives me the option.

"I'm not saying I'm doing anything. I might not do anything ever again on the track. But when I found out about the rule change [meaning riders must qualify for World Cup events], I thought I better do one in case I want to do the track."

Later today he will team up with Owain Doull for the two-man Madison, an event he said he was using the scratch race as a warm-up for.

In 2008, Cavendish had come away from the Beijing Olympics as Team GB's sole track cyclist not to win a medal there, partnering Bradley Wiggins, already the winner of golds in the individual and team puruits, in the Madison, no longer an Olympic event.

The pair had won the world championship in the event at Manchester earlier in 2008, and at the start of his career Cavendish had also partnered Rob Hayles in winning the Madison at Los Angeles in 2005.

That Olympic medal he covets is still proving elusive, however - in London last year, he started the road race with high hopes of claiming Team GB's first gold medal of London 2012 in the road race.

But despite a team including the likes of Wiggins, Chris Froome and David Millar riding strongly at the front of the main group, receiving scant help from other countries that may have preferred a sprint finish, the elastic snapped on the final lap of the Box Hill circuit and a strong group got away, including eventual winner Alexandre Vinokourov.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Cavendish will ride the Tour of Britain, as will Wiggins. This year’s edition, the tenth since the race was relaunched in its current format, will have the largest ever field with 114 riders making up 19 six-man teams, and the parcours is billed as the toughest yet.

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Leviathan | 10 years ago

Seems like Cav really wants that gold. The London road race proves people will work against him they are so scared of a bunch sprint (or were.) The track is at least a bit more honest in that sense, and the odds are better. Eliminates Central Asians and Columbians straight away.

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