Mark Cavendish's long wait for an Olympic medal is finally over after he took silver in the men's omnium at Rio 2016. The Manx Missile is a multiple world champion, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and winner of no fewer than 30 stages at the Tour de France, yet success on the biggest stage of all had always previously eluded him after madison disappointment alongside Sir Bradley Wiggins at Beijing 2008 and a 29th-place finish in the London road race four years ago.
Cavendish was third in the overall standings at the end of day one in Brazil, coming home sixth in the scratch race and proving second quickest in a seriously impressive individual pursuit. He remained in podium contention despite an avoidable error in the elimination race that saw him waste the chance to apply further pressure.
Returning to the Olympic Velodrome on Monday, the 31-year-old, who has revealed his frustration at being overlooked for the team pursuit and set tongues wagging regarding the possibility of more tension between him and five-time Olympic champion Wiggins, recorded another sixth-place finish in the 1km time trial. An excellent flying lap of 12.79 saw him move into second and 16 points behind Team Sky's Elia Viviani with only one event remaining.
It all came down to a decisive and always enthralling 40km points race, which featured a very early attack from two-time world champion Fernando Gaviria. After Lasse Norman Hansen had taken a lap, the yellow flag was raised and proceedings neutralised when Cavendish, coming down the track, accidentally swiped Park Sang-hoon's front wheel in a controversial crash that also momentarily took out Australian Glenn O'Shea and leader Viviani. The South Korean rider was eventually taken out on a stretcher in worrying scenes.
Cavendish was third behind an understandably disgruntled Viviani and Hansen at the halfway stage, responding to a two-man attack by gaining all five points in the next sprint. He did so again with 40 laps to go before the top three launched their own breakaway.
Hansen, no doubt sensing that he was being strategically reeled in by the Manxman, then mounted an individual charge to regain a narrow lead in second. Viviani pipped Cavendish to the line in the 14th of 16 sprints to lead by 10, by which point it was becoming increasingly clear that the latter was engaged with Hansen in a fierce battle for silver. He sealed second spot with a strong finish that involved taking the final point on offer to take his total tally to 194.
A tearful Viviani showed excellent powers of strength and recovery to take gold for Italy, while Denmark's Hansen was third.
Speaking after the race, Cavendish told the BBC: "I'm happy. Elia was the best guy there. If you take the points I lost in the elimination I would've been right with him.
"I have got my Olympic medal. It is really nice, but gold would've finished the collection. I did a pursuit yesterday and was unhappy I didn't break the Olympic record, that's just me. People are forgetting the team we have got behind us. It is incredible how they have worked. Without those guys I wouldn't be here."
On the possibility of riding at Tokyo 2020, he added: "I don't think so, but I said that eight years ago. I will retire at some point, but then I will have a month at home and people will tell me to get back on the bike."