The Manxman has controversially been given the chance to add a so-far elusive Olympic medal to his list of achievements after his selection for the omnium was announced on Friday. Laura Trott will ride the women’s version, the double London 2012 champion also appearing in the women’s team pursuit.
Cavendish’s selection had been flagged up for several months but will cause tensions because he does not have recent racing experience in the team pursuit, where he will be expected to fill the fifth available slot alongside Sir Bradley Wiggins, Owain Doull, and the London gold medallists Steven Burke and Ed Clancy.
“I’ve made no secret that my aim is to win an Olympic medal and I’m so pleased to have been given this opportunity,” he said. “I’ve given my all to training these past few months and I’m committed to doing my absolute best out in Rio.”
First up is another prize which the 31-year-old has so far found unattainable: the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, an event where he has won 26 stages but never worn the leader’s maillot jaune.
With the summer’s events out of the way, in October Cavendish will concentrate on regaining the Road World Championship title and with it the rainbow jersey he won in 2011 in Copenhagen.
The other notable selection in the Olympic squad is the 20-year-old Ryan Owens who only joined the British Cycling academy last September after winning the British university sprint, team sprint and kilometre championships in the spring.
The sprinters are Jason Kenny, Phil Hindes and Callum Skinner with Owens the reserve.
The team for the men’s road race will be led by the double Tour de France champion Chris Froome, with Pete Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates taking the other slots.
Pooley is considered to be the best British hope on the hilly time trial course in Rio, but she has barely road raced since retiring after the Commonwealth Games in 2014 to focus on triathlon.
The third road race place goes to Armitstead’s team-mate at Boels-Dolmans, Nikki Harris, who has raced strongly on the road this year after switching from riding mainly cyclo-cross. Dani King – world team-pursuit gold medallist in 2012 – has been named as a reserve.
Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Ciara Horne and Joanna Rowsell-Shand have been given the nod for the women’s team pursuit squad. As expected, there is no place for Jess Varnish in the squad.
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