Lefevere blocks Cavendish from track racing, says he is paid to compete on the road
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lefevere blocks Cavendish from track racing, says he is paid to compete on the road

by VeloNation Press at 7:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
Belgian manager believes velodrome too dangerous for his star sprinter

Mark CavendishMark Cavendish’s chances of riding track at the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games have taken a knock after his Omega Pharma Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere has made clear that he is opposed to the Manxman racing in the velodrome.

Cavendish said earlier this year that he wanted to get back to track racing and that Rio 2016 was a big ambition for him. He and fellow Briton Bradley Wiggins – who also indicated that he wanted to return to the velodrome – were told that they would have to earn their places on British teams by merit, rather than on their reputations and their past achievements on the track.

Riding track events will be important in doing that, but Lefevere believes that there’s too much of a risk.

“We have not invested in Mark for him to ride the six day,” he told Het Nieuwsblad, speaking about Cavendish’s desire to compete in the Gent Six.

“It is true that I have not given Mark permission to do the six-day. We pay him for performance on the road and he must concentrate fully on that. One the first day of the Gent six there were two riders who crashed [Luke Roberts and Martyn Irvine – ed.]. What if Mark had been one of them?

“In addition, the slopes make preparing for next season more complex. I tolerate the track for [Iljo] Keisse and [Niki] Terpstra, but not for Cavendish. Never say never, but this year it did not happen and next year it will not happen.”

Gent Six organiser Patrick Sercu confirmed what had happened. “Cavendish wanted this year to take part in the six days of Gent,” he said. “Money was not the stumbling block, it was the permission of his team. He did not get that.”

He confirmed that Cavendish had told him that he has the Commonwealth Games next year and the 2016 Olympic Games on his mind.

Towards the end of last season the 28 year old rider inked a three year deal with Omega Pharma Quick Step. That will take him up to the end of 2015; if British Cycling sticks by its insistence that Cavendish will need to earn his place on the team via track racing, it means that being able to gain selection for the Olympic Games will either need a change of mind from Lefevere or a change of team for Cavendish in 2016.

Until then, it seems that road results are all that count for his Belgian boss.

Cavendish had a strong first season with Omega Pharma Quick Step, clocking up twenty wins. However he was outsprinted on several occasions by his rivals in the Tour de France, taking just two stages. Marcel Kittel effectively took over his mantle as best Tour sprinter with his four stage successes.

Cavendish has said that he is determined to get his top speed back for 2014. Lefevere wants that too, but believes the risk of the track outweigh any performance improvement that it might bring.


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