Rio Olympics: Mark Cavendish threatens to sue journalists over allegations he deliberately crashed into rival in men's omnium
'I actually don't know if I can be a**** answering you lot'
Mark Cavendish reportedly threatened to sue journalists in the mixed zone minutes after he clinched Olympic silver in the men’s omnium, with the Manx cyclist questioned about whether he deliberately caused a crash that involved leader and eventual gold medallist Elia Viviani.
Cavendish responded angrily to the allegations that he hit South Korean’s Park Sanghoon deliberately – resulting in a four-man crash and leaving Sanghoon to be carried out of the velodrome on a stretcher – and he appeared to have several confrontations in the media mixed zone after the points race, the last of the six events that make up the omnium.
Cavendish did accept responsibility for the accident, but there was no appeal from any other rider and he British cyclist went on to clinch his first ever Olympic medal after finishing runner-up to Viviani, having overtaken defending champion Lasse Norman Hansen last in the points race.
"It was my fault," Cavendish said. "I should've looked where I was going a bit more. I hope he's all right.
"I apologised to Elia, who went down."
Any hopes Cavendish had of going for gold soon faded as it appeared he was being targeted by his rivals, with many riders attacking him early to try and snatch away his place on the podium.
"I kept trying to go. It was difficult. It was a strange one," Cavendish added.
"I'm always going to be a marked man. And I decided halfway I couldn't get a lap; no-one was going to let me get a lap.
"So I had to get the sprints. I felt incredible. I could see people dying and I felt better and better.
"But I knew at the halfway point it was going to be difficult to get a lap and I'd just have to pick off sprints one by one.
"Ultimately I couldn't have done any more. I have to be happy.
"Elia was better across the six disciplines. He deserved to win that Olympic gold.
"It's always disappointing not to win, but I did all I could, so yes, I'm happy."
Cavendish rued his early exit in the elimination race on Sunday, where he found himself boxed in on the inside of the track and had to drop below the bottom line to stay in the race, resulting in an automatic elimination.
The 31-year-old believed that had he gone on to challenge for the win in the elimination race, he would have been challenging Viviani for the overall win and the gold medal, but it wasn’t to be.
Instead, Cavendish was able to draw on a brilliant performance in the individual pursuit, which saw him challenge Sir Bradley Wiggins’ Olympic record for the 4km cycle before backing off in order to avoid reports that he was trying to prove a point after being left out of the team pursuit squad.
Cavendish claimed that, had he beaten Wiggins’ mark, it would have been taken as a direct attack on his British teammate. Hansen followed up Cavendish’s ride by surpassing Wiggins’s 2008 benchmark and setting a new Olympic record.
"I had to slow down. I would've gone for Brad's (Olympic) record, but you guys would start click-baiting that I did it because I didn't want to be friends with him,” Cavendish explained.
Having returned from Beijing 2008 as the only member of Team GB’s cycling squad not to win a medal and missing out in the road race at London 2012, Cavendish finally ended eight years of near-misses with the silver medal, but he hinted that he won’t keep going until Tokyo 2020 in search of gold simply due to the pressures put on him by the media during an Olympic cycle.
"I actually don't know if I can be a**** answering all to you lot (media) in four years saying 'you missed gold in Rio, you want to go for gold this time, it's the only thing you're missing'," Cavendish said.
Belfast Telegraph Digital