British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton has all but given up hope of convincing Mark Cavendish to ride on the track at next year’s Olympic Games.
Cavendish, who turns 30 in May, is in the final season of his contract with Belgian road team Etixx – Quick-Step and Rio 2016 is likely to be his last opportunity to win a first Olympic medal.
He has been mooted as a potential rider for the omnium, the six-race sprinter-friendly event in which Britain does not yet have a definite candidate.
However, Cavendish remains determined to extend his career on the road beyond this season and Sutton doubts he will be able to change his mind.
“I would say that Cav is a no,” the Australian said. “We would have opened the door to Cav, of course. He was one of them born with the gift – technically, he can do anything. He has been a world champion on the track; the greatest road sprinter of all time.
‘End of the road’
“But unfortunately I think it’s the end of the road for Cav [riding on the track at the Olympics]. He has made his decision not to entertain it and that’s fine. It’s a shame.
“I am one of Cav’s biggest admirers, as everybody knows, and I just want what’s best for Cav, and at this moment in time, his choice is to make sure that he protects his road contract.”
Even if Cavendish did have a change of heart, he would need to accrue qualifying points at track events before a September 1 deadline, which Sutton fears is unlikely given the Manxman’s road commitments in 2015.
“The cut-off would be on the qualification points – simple as that,” he added. “The road ends when he can’t numerically qualify. Until that point the road is open for Cav, but if he doesn’t put the points on the board he can’t qualify anyway.”
Although he has effectively ruled Cavendish out, Sutton hopes to see as many as four current Team Sky riders in contention for selection for the men’s endurance events at the Olympics.
Sir Bradley Wiggins has already begun the process of resuming his team pursuit career, Ben Swift has expressed an interest in riding the omnium, and Sutton is keen for both Peter Kennaugh and Luke Rowe to put their names forward.
He added: “We have got Brad, who is the big one in all this. Brad is a definite. Ben Swift is very, very keen. I think we will see the return of Ben and I think we will see the return of Peter Kennaugh. I think Pete will consider it. Whether he comes back or not, I’m not sure.
“I would like to see Luke Rowe have a look at the team pursuit. He showed great qualities as a track rider and I would like to think he would consider coming in.”