With the Rio Olympics just over the horizon in 2016, the composition ofthe Great Britain road and track cycling teams is forcing some tough decisionsto be made by our top stars, as they decide how best or even whether to pursuetheir Olympic dreams. For two of our most popular cyclists, both former BBC SportsPersonalities of the Year, it seems to be time to make their plans clear, asboth Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish have discussed their futures.

Cavendish is the hero of the small island of the Isle of Man who for along time was the undisputed sprint king on the roads, as he swept to stage winafter stage win in the Tour de France.

Who will ever forget the wondrous sightof the Manx Missile on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees as he stepped out frombehind his lead man’s wheel and stormed to last stage victory four years insuccession. In total he has amassed a quite staggering 25 individual stage winsat LeTour and a further 15 stage wins at the Giro d’Italia during anamazing career to date.

Yet, despite all his success on the roads (including the prestigiousWorld road title in 2011 in Copenhagen), a medal at the Olympics has so fareluded him.

He competed in Beijing in 2008 on the track without luck, but thenturned to the road race for London in 2012 where a strong GB team was assembledaround him, but again the race did not go his way, as he trailed in a modest 29thplace. With another opportunity to close that gap in his distinguished CV soclose at hand, he had initially suggested a track return was feasible but it nowseems that he has resigned himself to not participating in Rio after all. Theroad race in Brazil is on a hilly course that would not be best suited to aconfirmed sprinter such as himself, whereas in order to qualify for the trackraces he would require (what he feels as) unreasonable flexibility from hiscurrent road team, the Belgians Etixx-Quick-Step to release him for sufficient WorldCup events.

He seems to be stuck with the day job for now, given that there arebetter time trial exponents than him, the only other race he could have reasonablyconsidered.

It is a great pity, considering the devotion and dedication that “Cav”has given to the sport, but he feels that the way that cycling is currently setup, then the options for cyclists being employed by road racing teams arelimited when it comes to track cycling. At 29, he knows that another Olympicsafter Rio would be a long shot in the extreme to further his ambitions, yet hisdesire to compete was evident as he commentated for the BBC during the lastOlympics.

It prompted him to seriously consider his options four years on, butit now seems that time has run out.

By contrast, Wiggins seems to be going full steam ahead for what issurely to be his final crack at the Olympics. He has announced the launch of ‘TeamWiggins’ (track and road cycling team) to enable him to qualify for the track cyclingin Rio where he has had so much Olympic success in the past, and to also allowyoung British riders such as Andy Tennant, Steven Burke and Owain Doull to flourish.Importantly, British Cycling have given their backing to the new team, althoughit will operate outside of their remit.

Up until April, Wiggins will see outhis existing contract with Team Sky.

Wiggins can boast the ultimate cycling prize of overall victory at theTour de France in 2012, becoming the first Brit to achieve that, besides a Worldtime trial title last year when he finally overcame arguably the greatest riderin that classification, the German Tony Martin.

In addition, he already has seven Olympic medals (including four golds)in his swelling kit bag, something that Cavendish is surely envious of. He alsoknows that he needs just one more Olympic medal to become the most decoratedBritish athlete of all time.

At 34, Wiggins is reaching the end of his career, but seems determinedto have several last ‘hurrahs’ on the way, with another target being theindividual world hour record this year.

Cavendish and Wiggins actually competed together at Beijing in theMadison event and went into the competition with genuine medal hopes, havingwon the world title in the past. Wiggins had the legacy of other strenuous eventsalready in his legs though and try as he might, could not force the pacesufficiently to get them on to the rostrum as they faded to only ninth.

In theaftermath, the two friends fell out dramatically with each other and would nottalk together for months.

Cavendish will continue his road commitments this season as he onceagain targets the Giro d’Italia and Le Tour. The other sprinters seem to havecaught him up these days, but who would bet against him adding one or two morestage wins to his existing haul along the way, although he will still harbourregrets over the Olympic medals that got away it seems.

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