Mark Cavendish admits it is very unlikely he will feature on the track at this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The Manxman's task looked unlikely after he missed out on selection races in 2020 - but that was before the sporting calendar was flipped upside down by the coronavirus pandemic and the Games were postponed.
Cavendish, who may still feature on the road in Japan, won silver in the omnium at Rio 2016.
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The Brit was speaking on a Deceuninck-QuickStep press conference ahead of Le Samyn one-dayer on Tuesday alongside Floran Senechal and Patrick Lefevre.
The conversation covered a broad range of subjects, including the recovery of Fabio Jakobsen and their new ‘don’t drink and drive’ campaign, with the headline quotes collected below:
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Watch Cavendish in Le Samyn action on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app from 14:15 GMT on Tuesday. Coverage of the women's race is from 13:00 GMT.
I don’t think there’s an option there, no, with British Cycling
Of all the subjects discussed, the question of whether Cavendish still has Tokyo in his sights was given perhaps the shortest shrift. When asked if he felt racing on the track at the Olympics later this year was possible for him, he said: “I don’t think there’s an option there, no, with British Cycling.”
The conversation moved on swiftly from this point, but the implication seems to be that British Cycling have closed the door on any possibility of Cavendish competing for GB in the Tokyo Games. Cavendish was already facing long odds of being involved after he was not selected for the final round of the Track World Cup in 2020, but this is perhaps the most explicit implication yet of his non-participation.
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You know what wolves always do with their victims? They isolate them
Giving just a small hint as to his team’s likely tactics for dealing with the super-talents of Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, Patrick Lefevre gave the above response. He went on to say: "That’s what we’re going to do in the next few months."
We can interpret this as meaning 'more of the same' from the men in blue this classics season, as they look to leverage their incredibly strong line-up by attacking and attacking again.
I just balance out the average height of the team
When asked what role he can now play in such a complex and multi-talented squad, Cavendish responded with a joke, alluding to the generally high average height of other members of the other Deceuninck riders.
“There’s some quite tall guys in the team, I just balance out the average height of the team – in infographics and stuff like that.”
He went on to say that he would prefer not to disclose specifics about tactics.
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I’m pretty confident [Jakobsen] is gonna come back at a very high level
When asked about the recovery of fellow Deceuninck sprinter, Fabio Jakobsen, who was subject to a horrific injury in last season’s Tour of Poland, Cavendish was emphatic.
“Judging by how he’s been going, the work he’s been putting in, the performance he’s been showing, I’m pretty confident he’s gonna come back at a very high level.”
Do we have Van Aert? No. Do we have van der Poel? No. We have Alaphilippe
Responding further to the question about contending with two of the sports brightest talents, Lefevre pointed out that Deceuninck is by no means short of quality.
He highlighted their current world champion as one of their marquee names, but also pointed out just what a strong, deep squad the Belgian team has.
My teammates and me, we train around the world. We can respect everybody, we do not drink and drive. For me it’s simple
Senechal opened the call by throwing his unequivocal support behind the team’s new anti-drink diving position.
The team will wear a special ‘no to drink driving’ jersey in Le Samyn, which has been created alongside their alcohol-free beer sponsor, Maes 0.0.
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