The demise of HTC-Highroad frees Mark Cavendish to announce his impending move to Team Sky. Some sources say the deal was done months ago but the British sprinter has so far remained tight lipped about his plans.



Earlier in the week Cavendish told the BBC that he had made his decision and was happy with it. He is expected to announce the move any day. “A number of teams have expressed interest in me riding for them in 2012. I have now made a decision I am happy with and will be in a position to discuss my intentions once everything has been finalised.” He said today in a statement on his website.



He also paid tribute to the team he has ridden for since turning professional in 2007. “I am obviously very disappointed that HTC-Highroad will no longer be a team at the end of this season. I am hugely indebted and incredibly grateful to my teammates and all the staff for their support over the last 5 years and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together.”



In those five years Cavendish has won 71 races, with this year’s Tour green jersey being the icing on the cake.



Out of contract at the end of this season meant Cavendish was one of the most in-demand riders in the peloton this year. BMC offered him a huge salary and carte blanche to bring with him who he wanted while Quick Step were no doubt in the market too.



Patrick Lefevre has always been a fan of Cavendish and the Briton has a big following in Belgium. The Belgian team is set to bring in Omega Pharma as a co sponsor next year and has already announced four new signings.



But however in-demand Cavendish is it was really only ever going to be Team Sky. The British team started because of the success of the new breed of young British riders coming through their Academy system run first by Rod Ellingworth, then by Max Sciandri and now Chris Newton.



Cavendish is by far the most successful of those graduates, but until now is one of the few not riding for Team Sky. In 2008 when Team Sky was first announced he re-signed with Bob Stapleton’s Highroad management company (that runs the team), frustrating the Team Sky management – who are also the British Cycling staff – as they hadn’t been consulted.



Cavendish hadn’t done himself any favours either. His frustration with Highroad was first expressed at the Commonwealth Games in October 2010 when he said he was poorly paid and under-appreciated. He singled out Bob Stapleton for criticism and it seemed the end was nigh.



Despite the public spat, Stapleton was never going to let his star rider go, and reacted angrily to any questions that suggested a move that winter was on the cards.



The pair went some way to repairing their fractured relationship during the off season, and with a team of riders and staff giving incredible support to Cavendish there was a small chance he might stay.



However, as the season went on there was no news coming out of San Luis Obispo, Stapleton’s home town where the team is registered, in regards to a replacement sponsor. The American said they were still in talks with the Taiwanese phone producer but that their rapid growth over the previous year had caused major internal restructuring that had left the company unable to come up with a unified decision as to where to take their future marketing budgets.



The rumours around the peloton were however telling another story, as talk of HTC themselves being dissatisfied over renewal negotiations surfaced. Either way, by the start of July there was still no news and they were leaving it very late. Stapleton was in talks with other potential sponsors, and other teams had approached him regarding mergers but nothing was agreed.



As time dragged on, any chance of Cavendish staying slowly evaporated. Although he could affectively wait for the right offer to come in, it would be unsettling to leave an announcement too late. If that announcement is of anyone other than Team Sky, it would be a huge surprise.



Riders up for grabs

It’s not just about Cavendish though. HTC is packed with race winners and super-domestiques. Many of whom have been negotiating with teams for months (the UCI’s August 1st rule is blatantly flouted as agents start talking with prospective teams as early as April) with the knowledge that the HTC deal was on a knife edge.



BMC have been courting several HTC riders while GreenEDGE have been the most active in the transfer market this year. The new Australian team is starting from scratch and with a similar remit to team Sky of developing home talent will no doubt be talking with both Mark Renshaw and Matt Goss.



If Renshaw doesn’t go with Cavendish to Sky it will break up a hugely successful duet, but could also set up some intriguing sprint battles next year should Renshaw get the chance to ride for himself.



Announced

Peter Velits – Quick Step

Martin Velits – Quick Step

Patrick Gretsch – Skil Shimano



Expected

Tejay Van Garderen – BMC

Tony Martin – Saxo Bank Sungard

Bernard Eisel – Sky

Mark Renshaw – GreenEDGE or Sky

Matt Goss – GreenEDGE



Other riders

Michael Albasini

Lars Bak

Matt Brammeier

John Degenkolb

Caleb Fairly

Jan Ghyselinck

Bert Grabsch

Leigh Howard

Craig Lewis

Danny Pate

Marco Pinotti

Frantisek Rabon

Alex Rasmussen

Hayden Roulston

Kanstantsin Sivtsov

Gatis Smukulis



Women’s team

Judith Arndt

Charlotte Becker

Katie Colclough

Emilia Fahlin

Chloe Hosking

Amanda Miller

Amber Neben

Ally Stacher

Evelyn Stevens

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg

Ellen Van Dijk

Adrie Visser



Related links

HTC-Highroad to disband at the end of the season

  • Steve

    It makes you wonder where the will was in the HTC management. I’m disappointed to see Cav going to Sky (if that’s what is happening) for the reasons Bullet gives but also it’s just too insular. One of the things I love most is the international flavour of many of the teams, I’m not really bothered about a team of Brits socking it to Johnny Foreigner!

  • THE BOLTON BULLET

    Where’s Richard Branson when you need him? This would be an ideal marketing opportunity for someone like Branson to take over the whole job lot and set up a new team with existing riders. Wouldn’t he just love it every time Virgin Cycling beat SKY!!!! You would think that something like this would be right up Branson’s street, with Virgin getting hundreds of mentions every tv broadcast and plenty of other media coverage thrown in. Very sad and annoyed that HTC could not continue, especially when other teams in the pro peleton employ some real ‘dodgy geezers’ with questionable ethical history, yet seem to have no difficulty getting funding. Personally I believe that if nothing can be sorted, the best move for Cav, Eisel, Renshaw and Goss would be Green Edge. New team signing proven winners into a new set up would work. Cav Renshaw and Eisel moving to Sky would only cause problems and tensions..Wiggins alluded to this during his comments this week. A sad day for professional cycling…

  • arronski

    Bang goes Brads chance at TDF GC ..!

  • Peter

    ‘ Our Cav ‘ can’t go wrong as a pro cyclist wherever he lays his helmet.
    so long as he takes his trusty side kick Mark Renshaw with him!