When you’re whizzing around a velodrome competing against the best in the world, you have no option but to show your amicable side – according to Six Day star Mark Cavendish.
The Manx Missile will return to the iconic Lee Valley VeloPark velodrome this October when he races a second consecutive Six Day London and bids to better his second place finish from 2016.
Cavendish won the Ghent Six last year alongside good friend Sir Bradley Wiggins and the British duo pulled off a stunning effort in a pulsating final Madison to pip home favourites Kenny de Ketele and Moreno de Pauw – just a month after the result was reversed on their own home track at Six Day London.
This time, in 2017, the 32-year-old will be without long-time companion Wiggins, but Cavendish insists he has more friends than foes when it comes to racing on the track.
“I’m fortunate that I can call a lot of the Six Day riders my friends,” said the three-time Madison world champion.
“I think collectively, everybody races, but everybody has such respect for each other.
“We can race and we can race aggressively, but we always go and have dinner together and a drink afterwards and that’s an incredible part of the Six Day circuit.”
And while he may be all too aware of the challenge he faces against current Six Day London champions de Ketele and de Pauw – who will be his main rivals in London – Cavendish admits seeking camaraderie in the pack is always more of a comfort than a curse.
“Moreno and Kenny are good friends of mine – they’re currently the best Six Day riders in the world,” added the 30-time Tour de France stage winner.
“I think with all the guys we race, it’s always such hard racing, especially at London, but the good thing is that although there’s rivalries, there’s also friendships.”
Cavendish and Wiggins ended their glittering partnership in style last November when they became the first all-British pair to win the event on the boards of Ghent’s famous Kuipke velodrome – and with it marked a fitting end to Wiggins’ illustrious cycling career.
And the Manx Man has revealed the pressure he felt in Ghent, eager as he was to follow in the footsteps of cycling greats and four-time champions Eddy Merckx and Patrick Sercu.
“For me, the greatest of all time is Eddy Merckx as a cyclist and Patrick Sercu as a track cyclist. Together, they’re the most formidable pairing that there’s ever been in Six Day racing,” he concluded.
“When Brad and I won the Ghent Six last year, we wanted to do it as world champions. What was in our minds was that Patrick and Eddie won in Ghent as world champions – we wanted to emulate that.”