Mark Cavendish confirmed as signing contract with Sky Procycling
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mark Cavendish confirmed as signing contract with Sky Procycling

by Shane Stokes at 11:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
World champion to race alongside Bradley Wiggins on British ProTeam

Mark CavendishThe much-anticipated contract between Mark Cavendish and Sky Procycling has finally been made official, with the world road race champion agreeing to compete with the British squad from 2012 onwards.

The 26 year old sprinter had been in negotiations with the squad, having made a verbal agreement at the Tour de France. Team principal Dave Brailsford said last week that talks were ‘difficult’, amid suggestions that Quick Step was also interested, that the rider wanted to remain on a Specialized bike and also that he wanted control over his image rights.

The Belgian team confirmed yesterday that it had been in talks with him but said that they hadn’t progressed, while British Pinarello importer Phil Griffiths told Velonation that Sky Procycling would continue to use their current bikes, completing the final year of their three year deal. He also said that he believed Cavendish was set to join the squad.

It is not know what conclusion was reached as regards the image rights issue, but Cavendish and the team have clearly worked out an agreement which will see the sport’s best sprinter race there from the start of next season.

“Mark is the greatest sprinter of his generation and is well on his way to becoming the greatest of all time,” said Brailsford today. “He is a rider of exceptional talent who has proved his pedigree at the very highest level of our sport.

“Mark is a born winner and what excites me most is the attitude he brings to all the teams he rides for. We want to inspire more fans to get into cycling and I can think of no one better to help us do that. We are delighted that the new world champion will be riding for Team Sky next season.”

Cavendish has already clocked up twenty Tour de France stage wins in his career and is expected to rack up many more in the years ahead. The Maillot Vert is likely to be his big goal again next season. The team will also aim to take a podium place or possibly even the final yellow jersey with Bradley Wiggins, meaning that it will have to try to achieve the tricky balance of having a sprinter and a general classification contender on the same time.

However despite the fact that this will potentially make things a little less straightforward for Wiggins, he greeted the news of his compatriot’s signing and said that he was looking forward to working alongside him.

“I think I speak for everyone in the squad when I say that we’re all delighted to have Cav joining us at Team Sky,” he stated. “He is the best sprinter in the world and has an energy and passion for cycling that is infectious. Team Sky has enjoyed a fantastic second season and Mark’s signing is another statement of our intent for next year and beyond.”

The news is a big boost for cycling in Britain, both in terms of the Tour de France and other top pro events, and also because it means that the rider who will be the country’s top medal hope in the Olympic road race is on board.

British Cycling federation president Brian Cookson gave his thumbs up to the news. “It is fantastic that Mark is joining Team Sky and I am sure that every fan of the sport in Britain will be excited by this news.

“The team has made stunning progress over the past 12 months, as highlighted particularly by performances at the Tour de France and more recently the Vuelta a Espana. The addition of Mark will only serve to further strengthen the team and I’m particularly pleased that arguably the best known British rider in the world will now be riding for a British team.”

He also recognised that it will be an important recruiting tool for the next generation of the sport, being something that could boost the chances of more riders taking up the sport and ultimately making the breakthrough in the future.

“Much of the work we do at British Cycling is about using the success we enjoy at the top level to inspire others to get on their bikes. With someone like Mark having been all the way through our system from his earliest years and now joining Team Sky, that link between inspiration and participation grows ever stronger, further increases the profile of our sport, and will hopefully encourage more people to join the ever growing ranks of cyclists across the nation.”

Future team-mates react:

Fellow Britons Geraint Thomas and Ben Swift were similarly upbeat, as was their Norwegian team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen. The latter raced alongside Cavendish with his previous team and knows him well from that. He said that he is a big achiever and that he would bring success to the team.

“I know from my time riding with Mark at Columbia-HTC what a special talent he is,” he said, “and it’s great that we are back on the same team. Mark is a good guy, delivers when it matters and is another weapon in our squad for next year.”

Thomas and Swift have not been trade team team-mates with the young sprinter, but know him from road and track racing with British cycling. In recent weeks they have said that they hoped that he would join the team and now that the final details have been worked out and the contracts signed, they were enthusiastic about the news.

“Cav joining Team Sky is fantastic news. In many ways it’s like he’s coming home – the team has a number of riders and support staff that he grew up with and it won’t take him any time to settle in,” Thomas said. “I think everyone saw that when we helped him to victory for Great Britain at the Worlds, and we are all looking forward to helping him deliver more wins for Team Sky.”

As for Swift, he is also a very quick finisher and believes his own career will benefit from having the world champion around. In the short term he is likely to be one of his leadout riders, but working with him should help his own career progress. He will also get his own chances in other races.

“The young sprinters here are always looking to learn and having someone like Cav on the team is going to help us a lot,” he explained. “We know each other very well already, but seeing how he goes about things on a daily basis will be really good for me personally. He’s always happy to give tips and advice. It’s great to have him on the team.”


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