If Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish are to return to the track to help form a pursuit “dream team” for the Rio Olympics then they will have to commit to the event two years out for it to become a reality, according to the team’s coach, Chris Newton.
In the wake of the London Games, Cavendish, who has still to win an Olympic medal, was effusive in his ambition to swap the road for the track, while there were also suggestions it could interest Wiggins. But Newton, a former team-mate of both, said yesterday that the combination of an upcoming generation of new British riders and the wider competitiveness of the event made a long-term commitment vital. Newton sees it one that will take up the best part of two years through 2015 and 2016. It is a commitment neither is likely to be able to meet.
“The more the merrier,” said Newton when asked if he would welcome any moves by them to return to the track. Newton is preparing a young squad for next week’s world championships in Minsk, the first of a new Olympic cycle, without London winners Geraint Thomas and Pete Kennaugh, who have both switched to the road.
“The track is moving further forward again, potentially those athletes are going to be left behind. We need a new crop of athletes that are specific to an event rather than moving from one to the other. We would like to break the world record, that is the benchmark. That is where everything is pitched but it takes a huge commitment for an athlete to do that.
“They can’t just walk in from the Tour de France and go ‘oh by the way I’m a team pursuit rider now’. It doesn’t work like that any more. The event has moved on and for an athlete to commit that much time will impinge on their road career. It’s a huge commitment through the winter and the summer period as well. I don’t know whether a road career will allow that.”
Wiggins rode team pursuit in three Games, culminating in gold in Beijing. Cavendish rode pursuit alongside Ed Clancy, who remains part of the team, and Thomas for Britain’s under-23 squad and in the 2005 the trio won a World Cup event.
“Immediately after London Cav was super excited about riding the team pursuit,” said Clancy yesterday. “I’d love Cav and Brad to come back for one last hurrah, I don’t know whether it will happen though, those boys have got so much going on on the road. It might be hard to them to justify with sponsors. It would be fantastic if they did have a crack at it.”