February 26, 2016 / 4:09 PM / 2 years ago

Cavendish given top-three target at world championships

LONDON (Reuters) - Mark Cavendish must finish in the top three of the omnium at the next month’s track world championships to be selected for the Rio Olympics, British cycling’s technical director said on Friday.

Mark Cavendish of Britain celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 190.5-km (118.4 miles) 7th stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Livarot to Fougeres, France, July 10, 2015. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Cavendish is one of the world’s best ever road sprinters with 26 Tour de France stage victories, but has never won an Olympic medal.

In 2008 he finished ninth in the madison on the track at the Beijing Games and four years later he came 29th in the road race in London.

The 30-year-old hopes to secure a place in the multi-event omnium at the Rio Games in August.

Yet if he cannot prove he can compete for an Olympic medal at March’s world championships in London, the rider will turn his attention to this year’s Tour, British cycling’s technical chief Shane Sutton said.

“If he can’t make the top three, he would pursue his dreams of the Tour de France yellow jersey,” Sutton told the BBC.

“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.”

Sutton issued a similar warning to four-times Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins this week.

Wiggins, who has won three golds on the track as well as the Olympic time trial in 2012, is trying to earn a place in the four-man team pursuit team.

“It’s an evidence-based selection he’s involved in,” Sutton said.

“Brad has to go out and produce in London which will determine whether he makes the road to Rio or not.”

Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ed Osmond

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