Mark Cavendish will join Omega Pharma-Quick Step next season on a three-year deal Sky Sports News has reported today.

Team Sky confirmed the early departure issuing a brief statement on its website.

“The 2011 world champion had been expected to leave at the end of his first season with the team over a clash of priorities, having seen his winning opportunities in Grand Tour stages limited,” it read.

Cavendish signed a three-year contract with the British-based outfit toward the end of last year but leaves the team after one season in which he celebrated 15 wins but felt he could have achieved more and so felt frustrated.

Cycling Weekly understands the 27 year old did not have to pay a seven-figure release fee that Sky reportedly initially demanded when discussions about his future with the team began.

Cavendish will reunite with mentor and former HTC-Highroad sports director Brian Holm at Omega Pharma-Quick Step but is set to go without confidant Bernhard Eisel, who was negotiating a contract extension with Sky at the Tour of Britain last month. The Austrian followed Cavendish to Sky when HTC-Highroad folded at the end of the 2011 season.

Cavendish began to consider an early exit at the Tour de France this year where, for virtually the first time, he did not have the full support of a team with Sky focused on general classification success via Bradley Wiggins. The 2011 green jersey champion won three stages, bringing his career Tour tally to 23, but that was short of his previous average of five.

Wiggins’s emphatic victory in France further strengthened the outfit’s ambition to win Grand Tours thus limiting the number of opportunities for Cavendish.

“Mark has been a true champion for Sky this year,” said team principal and British Cycling performance director David Brailsford in a separate statement today.

“It’s been an honour having the rainbow jersey in this team and great to work so closely with a rider I’ve known since he was a junior. He has been a real team player, making history in a Tour de France winning team.

“Cav won 15 races with us, including his first stage race,three Tour stages, and the fourth win in his unbeaten run on the Champs Elysees. The sight of him winning in Paris, with the yellow jersey leading out the world champion – both in team Sky kit – is something you’ll never forget.

“We all wish Mark the very best with his future ambitions in a new team and as British rider.” 

Omega Pharma- Quick Step has no overt Tour contender and can accommodate Cavendish, who will once again call double world time trial gold medallist and engine Tony Martin team-mate. The 2007 green jersey winner Tom Boonen, who cleaned up at the classics winning Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders, E3 and Ghent-Wevelgem this year, also has a leadership role at the Belgian squad.

The team issued its own statement this evening welcoming the Manxman to its fold. 

“With his arrival the team will be even more balanced and it will be enriched with another top rider, who will become the man to count on in the sprint, just as Tony Martin is the point man for the time trial and Tom Boonen the best rider for the northern classics,” Omega Pharma-Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere said. “Mark will also find a time-tested technical staff on the team, as well as high calibre athletes eager to work with him to reach new, grand goals together.”

Owner Zdenek Bakala added: “In addition to raising the technical bar for the team, his arrival will broaden our international profile and team image. Mark is an important player in the gradual growing process in which the team has invested.”

 

Related links 

Sky to release Cavendish for free

Cav’s next move

Brailsford keen to keep Eisel at Sky

Cavendish to meet with Brailsford and discuss contract

CW Exclusive: Cav’s gilded cage 

 

Follow @cyclingweekly

Follow @SophieSmith86  

 

  • Ken Evans

    Cav was spoilt at Highroad, he compared Sky to them and wasn’t impressed.
    If he doesn’t win a lot with OP-QS will he move again ?

  • dai bananas brother

    No he had to go, he’ll never live down the shampoo adverts. Good luck to Mark and family in downtown Ghent., Hope M.Leferve gives him access to his fabled wine cellar as part of the deal. Sky haven’t really behaved very well have they, despite Dave Brailsford’s contrary statements. A definite case of putting corporate interests before those of the individual………..and we have detected one of those awful cliches ‘making history’ in DB’s farewell message.

  • matt lee

    will renshaw defect from rabobank ??? my guess is that Eisel might fancy winning a few for himself before he retires and assume he signed a 3 (2?) year with sky that they weren’t prepared to tear up. Good move for Cav, not sure he’ll make 34 but sure there will be a few more (maybe even a ghent wevelgem)

  • roginoz

    mark ford……cavendish,known in the schoolyard as cav ,is an amazing sprinter but 100 stage wins would not compare to the breadth of the 34 of EDDY, still known as the CANNIBAL because he doped on consuming his rivals in ALL situations….yes a long time ago …yes never equalled.

  • Terry Hammond

    SKY were caught out by Brad’s ability to win the TdF earlier than planned, according to their 5 year plan they had time for Cav to win more stages before winning the TdF. Mind you, this site was full of foreboding about Cav’s move to SKY this time last year, me included.
    They’ve had their pound of flesh with a full year of the World Champion on the team competitive in the peleton gaining shed loads of PR.
    Let’s not forget Cav could have won 5 stages this year if he hadn’t crashed out on 2 because SKY failed to protect him.
    I’m just sorry he’s had to go to a foreign team to achieve his ambition when he’s clearly so patriotic.
    Is this the backlash of missing Olympic Road Gold ?

  • Sam

    thank god this is over….for at least another 12 months….

  • mick lee

    Good move for cav, it was never going to be easy to support him in the tours and im surpriced he he never saw the problems himself., good that sky let him go a free transfer, i wonder why his old mate Eisle is staying put.

  • mark ford

    In my mind Cavendish has been badly let down by the strategy at Sky but, also surprised that Cav was duped by Brailsford knowing that the team was set up in the first place to win the tour. With a proper leadout train Merckxs’ 34 stage wins is now seriously under threat and the manx express is the man to do it.