• London Olympics 2012

Cavendish: I'm cycling's version of Barcelona

ESPN staff
July 24, 2012
Mark Cavendish is chasing gold in London © Getty Images

Mark Cavendish admits he will have to deal with a different kind of pressure at London 2012 - saying he feels like the Barcelona of cycling because everyone expects him to win every time.

Bradley Wiggins' historic victory in the Tour de France has elevated levels of optimism and expectation surrounding British cycling, with Cavendish - who won three stages in this year's Tour despite Team Sky prioritising Wiggins' campaign over his sprint ambitions - an early chance for gold at the Olympics in the road race.

Having dominated the sprints for a number of years now, the reigning world champion admits that he finds himself in a position few other sportsmen or teams reach.

"Yeah, it's no longer a bonus if Barcelona win," Cavendish said, according to the Mirror. "The news is if they don't win. And every race I do, I'm expected to win."

Cavendish notes that there are huge differences between the two, however - keen to stress that he has to worry about many more competitors who are all capable of defeating him on any given day.

"I'll big myself up and say in football you are playing one team versus the other. But, in cycling, it's not just me versus one other person, it's me versus 200," he said. "Imagine every team in the Primera Liga, all on the same pitch at the same time, all trying to score into one goal - that's the pressure that we are under as cyclists.

"It's the equivalent of that. You've got to make it happen. It's an honour to have that pressure on you because it shows you are doing something right to gain it.

"It is better to win nine out of 10 races and have someone criticise you for the one you lose.

"I tell you, in anything in life, more people criticise than praise. It is human nature. No one thinks their praise matters as much as their criticism, so you take it like that. You learn to live with it."

Cavendish revealed that he will deal with that pressure by attempting to look at the Olympic road race as just another competition, rather than the potential pinnacle of his already illustrious career.

"The Olympics is not another bike race," Cavendish said. "But you have got to see it as another bike race.

"It is not an emotional thing. It is a series of calculations. It is 260km of making calculations and putting yourself in the best position to cross the line first."

Ultimately, the Isle of Man native hopes that his competitive nature will see him through to gold.

"If you lose, it means you have done something wrong," he said. "You can either look at it as hating to lose, or loving to win.

"Since I was a kid, it wasn't good enough to be the best I could be. I had to be the best at everything.

"I had to win the school spelling competition, the school general knowledge, I had to be in the 'A' team of football. It's just born in you."

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