Mark Cavendish says only a serious crash during the upcoming world championships will prevent him from racing at the controversy-rocked Commonwealth Games set for India early next month.
Scores of top cyclists have already vowed to skip the Indian games, citing health concerns and travel woes for the quadrennial sporting event for the nations of the Commonwealth.
“The only way I won’t be coming to Delhi is if I get injured here in Australia,” Cavendish told the Daily Mail. “I particularly like competing in the Games because it gives me the chance to represent the Isle of Man, and this only ever happens every four years.”
Several top cyclists have already said they will not compete in Delhi, including track stars Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. Others to pull out include road riders such as Geraint Thomas of England and Travis Meyer of Australia.
The assurance from Cavendish that he will compete in Delhi will come to as a boon to local organizers, who are fighting a litany of infrastructure problems, logistical nightmares and cancellations from major stars.
Federations have threatened to boycott the Games due to horrendous housing conditions at the athletes village and what some are calling unsafe conditions at venues. A pedestrian bridge collapsed last week, injuring 20 workers.
Officials even found a four-foot cobra at the tennis venue and South African officials said they saw snakes in their living quarters during an inspection of the facilities.
Troubles aside, Cavendish has a special relationship with the Commonwealth Games, where he won a gold medal in the 2006 that helped herald his arrival to the big-time. Since then, he’s emerged as the most dominant sprinter in a generation, winning 15 stages in the past three Tours de France.
Cavendish said he wants to win more medals in the Commonwealth Games, which are unique in that he can compete for his home region of the Isle of Man, rather than for Great Britain as in other international events such as the world championships and the Olympics.
“I know about the withdrawals of some of the other cyclists, and I understand their reasons, but I am very proud to have a Commonwealth gold medal back home and I’d like to try to get another one in a few days’ time,” he said.