• Cycling

Cav and Wiggins' track return unlikely

ESPN staff
February 12, 2013 « Rio hopes occasion gets better of Ronaldo | Chartbeat test »
Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins' hopes of forming an Olympic track 'dream team' are remote © Getty Images
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Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish would have to call time on their road racing careers in 2014 if they are intent on returning to the track for the Rio Olympics, according to the British Cycling endurance coach Chris Newton.

Cavendish, who is yet to win an Olympic medal, expressed his intention to make a return to track cycling in time for the 2016 Games shortly after London 2012, while Wiggins is rumoured to be considering a return as well.

But Newton has warned both that the level of competition within the British camp and worldwide has stepped up a notch since they turned their attention to road cycling after the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and long-term commitment to the track team is now vital.

Newton, who is preparing a new-look squad for next week's Track Cycling World Championship in Minsk, the first of the 2016 Olympic cycle, believes any rider wanting to be part of the team for Rio will need to focus on the track throughout 2015 and 2016, a commitment neither Wiggins nor Cavendish is likely to meet.

"The track is moving further forward again, potentially those athletes are going to be left behind," Newton told the Independent. "We need a new crop of athletes that are specific to an event rather than moving from one to the other."

Wiggins, who has seven Olympic medals from four Games, has won three medals in the team pursuit including a gold in 2008 before winning the road time trial in London, while Cavendish rode pursuit alongside Ed Clancy, who remains part of the team, and Geraint Thomas for Britain's under-23 squad.

"Immediately after London Cav was super excited about riding the team pursuit," said Clancy. "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."

But the prospect of the former team-mates joining forces to form a track 'dream team' is remote, Newton said.

"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 anymore. 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."

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