Tokyo 2020 - Team GB good enough to beat Italy to team pursuit gold at Paris Olympics, says Mark Cavendish
"The biggest mistake now is to go back after this Olympics and look at the other teams and how to beat them. What GB have always done well in the past is focus on what we can do and how we can go faster." Mark Cavendish believes Team GB can reclaim team pursuit gold in Paris. You want it? We have it. Stream every Olympic event live on discovery+.
'It blows your mind' - Cavendish on 'incredible' track cycling improvements
But Cavendish says that Team GB, who had won team pursuit gold at the previous three Games, know how to build a squad to peak at the right time, particularly given that the British quartet who rode on Wednesday had an average age of 22.
“The future is exciting,” Cavendish told Reshmin Chowdhury in the Eurosport Cube. “The biggest mistake now is to go back after this Olympics and look at the other teams and how to beat them. What GB have always done well in the past is focus on what we can do and how we can go faster.
“In the team pursuit, although you have another team on the track, it is you racing against the stopwatch. So they should go back and know that they’ve got these young and strong guys.
“If they just go back and do what they can do, they can come back for Paris and fight for the gold.”
‘Top speeds of 70kph’ – Wiggins breaks down the Team Pursuit
Team GB were denied the services of veteran three-time Olympic champion Ed Clancy for Tuesday and Wednesday’s racing after the British cycling legend was forced to retire mid-competition due to a back injury.
And Cavendish says that Clancy deserved better than to go out so quietly.
“The first time I met Ed he actually beat me,” Cavendish said. “This guy turned up and beat me in the individual pursuit and I was like ‘who’s this guy’!?
"And then we joined the British programme together and we lived together, and spent the best part of five-six years as housemates.
“As he stood up and saw how strong he was as a bike rider and how he could bring a team together, he really stepped up as a leader.
“You get a leader like Brad (Wiggins), who came in with everything he’s achieved and a strong personality, but Ed just quietly behind the scenes kept everybody together. He’s done that for four Olympiads now.
I messaged him this morning saying that I was crying you know?
“He’s a special guy and liked by everyone. He must have been in pain – he’s kept going for five years and for it to end like that.
“He should be proud of what he’s done, but it’s a shame to see it like that.”
The British cycling squad are yet to win a gold on the track in Tokyo, with the men's pursuiters missing out and both the men's sprint team and women's pursuit team settling for silver.
But Cavendish says that the lack of gold medals isn't a sign of Team GB losing their touch.
"GB aren’t in decline, the rest of the world is stepping up," he said.
"Great Britain were always the pioneers in new technologies and advancements to make the sport quicker. But as you advance the amount of things you can do get smaller, you can’t get the big gains you used to.
The rest of the world are coming up. The speed that all of these nations are going at, it blows your mind.
"The women’s (team pursuit) world record now, in Athens that’s what the men were doing. That’s crazy. You’re talking 23-30% quicker times, it’s a different sport now."
'A thrilling race' Mark Cavendish breaks down Italy's team pursuit strategy
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