Mark Cavendish still keen on Tokyo 2020 bid as he prepares for Six Day London

By Jack SkeltonBBC Sport
Britain's Mark Cavendish rides around the Lee Valley velodrome
Mark Cavendish is seeking his first Six Day London win in October

Mark Cavendish says he is still interested in racing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as he prepares to return to the track at Six Day London in October.

After winning omnium silver at Rio 2016, the 34-year-old may target a first Olympic gold in the madison when it returns to the Games next year.

The three-time madison world champion will partner Owain Doull in the Six Day event at Lee Valley from 22-27 October.

"Riding the madison at Tokyo is still an interest," he told BBC Sport.

"Any time on the track is good preparation for it and Six Day racing is good because it stays true to the foundations of madison racing."

The multi-discipline Six Day eventexternal-link will be broadcast on the BBC Sport website and via BBC iPlayer, with the racing including the madison, time trials, team eliminations, scratch races and points race.

Britain's Cavendish was "heartbroken" after being left out of this year's Tour de France by Team Dimension Data, preventing him from adding to his 30 stage wins - four off Belgian Eddy Merckx's record.

He has kept racing on the road, including in last week's Tour of Britain, but said he was confident of a strong showing back on the track at Lee Valley, where he won the last of his madison world titles with Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2016.

"I like riding on the track, it complements my road riding," said Cavendish.

"I have to build up over the next couple of weeks because a bit more intensity comes in racing against guys that have been training on the track for a while now.

"It's never easy to transition from road to track - but, having done it for many years, I know what to do."

Cavendish and Wiggins finished ninth in the madison at Beijing 2008 and the event was cut from the next two Olympics, but its return for Tokyo was announced in 2017, with Cavendish saying he was keen to compete.

Cycling's governing body, the UCI, has changed the points structure of the madison, in which two riders alternate racing over 200 laps for men and 120 laps for women, who will race it at Olympic level for the first time in 2020.

Cavendish said the format changes "take away" from the event and so the Six Day madison holds more "sentimental value", but it would not put him off racing at Tokyo 2020.

"It's a lot less tactical now. Before, you really had to plan your race - now you just have to ride it," he said.

"But it doesn't affect the ability of the rider."

'The highlight of the year'

Owain Doull says La Vuelta a Espana has given him more confidence

Cavendish has finished second in both of his previous Six Day London appearances, alongside Wiggins in 2016 and Peter Kennaugh in 2017.

He was forced to withdraw from last year's event as he took a period of total rest from cycling because of the Epstein-Barr virus.

"I'm really excited to be back," he said. "I was sad not to ride last year - I came down to watch and missed it. This velodrome is very special to me.

"It's really built on London 2012 and Six Day is the highlight of the year now."

Olympic champion Elinor Barker and Manon Lloyd will form an all-Welsh pairing in the elite women competition.

Welshman Doull, who won Olympic gold in the 2016 team pursuit, will be making his Six Day debut in London, having just completed his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a Espana for Team Ineos.

"I've done a madison before with Owain but he's never done a Six Day so I'll show him the ropes," said Cavendish.

"We rode together in Rio and I've seen him grow as a road rider so I know physically he'll be able and we should get a decent result."

Doull, 26, said he "can't wait" to race alongside a "British cycling legend" at Lee Valley.

"I've heard great things about Six Day and will be determined to bring it home for Wales under the lights," he added.

Italy's Olympic omnium champion Elia Viviani and Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan, who won one and three Tour de France stages this year respectively, are also set to ride at Six Day London.

"It's probably going to be the most competitive field I've raced with here, with guys who are the best sprinters of their generation," said Cavendish.

"I've had battles on the track with Elia before and it will be nice to have home advantage this time.

"There was a rise of big, strong sprinters for a while on the road, but it's come around for small and fast guys like myself. To have the three best guys like that at Six Day is a big thing."

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