Cycling superstar Mark Cavendish set for World Cup track meeting in Hong Kong
British rider, a multi-stage winner in the Tour de France, will use the event as part of his build-up to the Rio Olympics
British cycling star Mark Cavendish is set to become one of the top attractions at Hong Kong's inaugural World Cup track meeting in January.
Cavendish, a multi-stage winner at the Tour de France, has put his hand up for competing at Tseung Kwan O as he returns to the track in his first major race in his build-up towards Rio de Janeiro, according to Cyclingnews and the UCI World Cup series.
In Hong Kong, Cavendish will race the omnium, one of the five events on the Olympic track programmes, according to the British team's head of performance, Shane Sutton.
Chairman of the Hong Kong Cycling Association Leung Hung-tak welcomed the news, saying it would be a great opportunity to watch the 31-year-old in action.
"The UCI has yet to provide us with the participants' list as only the opening round of this season's World Cup series has been completed," said Leung. "The second round will not start until next month while Hong Kong will be the third and last round.
"But this is definitely good news to us. Cavendish is one of sport's household names and his presence will not only provide top quality competition but also attract fans."
The association will spend close to HK$10 million on hosting the World Cup, with the budget mainly coming from sponsorship and government funding. But Leung still hoped more people could come to watch the event on January 16-17.
"One of our targets is to promote track cycling in Hong Kong through the World Cup series so that we can identity more young talent to strengthen our feeder system. With the presence of Cavendish, it definitely helps," said Leung.
Hong Kong has produced three world champions in track cycling.
They were Wong Kam-po and Kwok Ho-ting, both in the men's scratch race in 2007 and 2011 respectively while Sarah Lee Wai-sze also won the "rainbow jersey" designated for the world champion in the women's 500 metre time trial in 2013.
"We always want more up-and-coming riders to take up the baton so that we can increase our chances of glory at the highest level.
"The World Cup would be an ideal event to showcase the power of track cycling and attract more potential riders," said the HKCA chief.
Cavendish is currently training with Britain's track endurance team in Tenerife, Spain, where he is engaged in two weeks of altitude training, according to coach Brian Stephens.
"Mark is doing well and just started training for the season," said Stephens.
"He's coming off a break but putting all the hard yards in".
Cavendish has won 26 Tour de France stages, putting him third on an all-time list.