After a glittering career that has seen the devastating 'Manx Missile' accumulate four world championship titles, Commonwealth Games gold and sensationally move just four wins away from Eddy Merckx's all-time record of individual stage wins at the prestigious Tour de France, there is still one particularly special reward that still evades the great Mark Cavendish: Olympic success.

But that certainly is not due to a lack of effort on his part. A bitter madison experience alongside Sir Bradley Wiggins eight years ago in Beijing saw the angry 31-year-old suffer the ignominy of becoming the only member of Great Britain's cycling team not to medal and also led to him declaring that there was "nothing for me on the track now".

Sticking to the road on the opening day of London 2012, Cavendish looked primed to take glory before a late breakaway saw him cross the line in a disappointing 29th place.

After bidding an early farewell to a hugely successful 2016 Tour that saw him collect four more stage victories and both match and surpass the legendary Bernard Hinault, Cavendish is gearing up for one more attempt at Olympic track redemption. Despite coming sixth at the World Championships in March and eventually missing out on the podium by a whopping 30 points, he will still contest the omnium in Rio (and potentially also the team pursuit).

Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish won madison gold in March, but struggled in the omniumERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

The biggest barrier between 'Cav' and gold in the two-day, six-event challenge will be a talented and familiar upstart by the name of Fernando Gaviria. Although lacking in prior Olympic experience, the young Colombian, as well as being a strong classics rider tipped for future Grand Tour glory, is a real sprinting force and a two-time world champion of the men's omnium.

Already a double junior title-winner owing to his impressive exploits in the omnium and madison three years prior, Gaviria burst onto the professional scene in memorable fashion and announced himself by incredibly beating Cavendish to two sprint finishes during the early stages of last year's Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

Fernando Gaviria
Fernando Gaviria is looking to follow consecutive omnium world titles by winning a first Olympic gold medalERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

Such a confident performance led to Patrick Lefevere and Etixx-Quick Step quickly recruiting the 21-year-old, who was quick to reveal a "strong admiration" for his new teammate and stressed that he had been "constantly watching him, trying to understand his movements and learn as much as I can".

His burgeoning track reputation was further enhanced at the 2015 Worlds, when he showed impressive consistency and maturity to beat former champion Glenn O'Shea and Team Sky's Elia Viviani in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. Arriving in London a year later to defend his crown and reinforce his lofty Olympic ambitions, Gaviria recovered from an underwhelming start in the scratch race to become the first man to win the omnium twice by coming out on top in the individual pursuit and elimination race.

Fernando Gaviria
Fernando Gaviria successfully defended his world omnium title at Lee Valley VeloParkERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

He subsequently finished second in the one-kilometre time trial and narrowly repelled a late charge from neck-and-neck rivals Roger Kluge and O'Shea with a dramatic late sprint in an entertaining climax to the decisive points race. On the road this year, the three-time Pan American champion finished first in the points classification at the inaugural Tour La Provence and won two stages of the latest Tour de San Luis and the Tour de Pologne as well as winning stage three at the Tirreno–Adriatico.

The first eagerly anticipated Anglo-Colombian cycling rivalry of the summer has been something of a damp squib, with the lacklustre Nairo Quintana, possibly struggling with an allergy, seemingly powerless to prevent Chris Froome's dominant march towards a third Tour de France triumph. Hopefully the latest tussle will be far more compelling, although Gaviria, who will no doubt be backed by a strong home contingent in South America, looks primed to become a true Olympic star for years to come. That is likely to be bad news for Cavendish's pursuit of that persistently elusive gold.