Mark Cavendish confirms he wants to leave Team Sky
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mark Cavendish confirms he wants to leave Team Sky

by Ben Atkins at 4:21 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
World champion hopes for an amicable separation and that British team doesn’t demand a release fee

mark cavendishAfter weeks of speculation and gossip from everybody but the man himself, Mark Cavendish has finally confirmed that he does want to leave Team Sky at the end of the year. The World champion Manxman is coming to the end of the first year of a three-year deal with the British superteam, but found his own ambitions were at odds with those of his team during this year’s Tour de France.

"I want the best for British cycling, it has grown so much and we had this idea that we could have this British Super team that could win stages and dominate," he said on the eve of the Tour of Britain, according to the Daily Telegraph. "Dave [Brailsford, Sky’s team principle] sold me the idea last year but for some reason it hasn't worked out like that. Its difficult to do.”

Team Sky’s nine man line up at the Tour was almost totally geared towards delivering Bradley Wiggins the overall victory. Cavendish was only given his “minder” Bernhard Eisel as a dedicated teammate and, largely as a result of this, he was only able to take three stage victories instead of his usual five or six, and was not able to mount a defence of the green jersey he won in 2011.

The 27-year-old kept his feelings largely to himself during the race, and was even seen pulling the peloton and fetching drinks from the team car. He did express his disappointment that he was not able to challenge for more victories however, and compared his own situation to Manchester United star forward Wayne Rooney being made to play in defence.

"Winning the yellow jersey is the biggest thing in cycling,” said Cavendish. “For me not to want a team and a company I love not to go and do the biggest thing would be wrong.

"But obviously it restricts me and what I can do as a professional cyclist myself. I have got this ambition of winning as many stages in the Tour de France as I can and I want to be somewhere I can do that. We had ambitions that can't work out.”

Much of Cavendish’s willingness to put his own Tour de France ambitions to one side was down to the expectation that many of those Team Sky riders would be returning the favour for him at the Olympic Games a week later. The Great Britain team was unable to control the race as it wanted however, and he was once again one of the few British riders to leave the Olympics empty handed.

Next year there will be no such post-Tour incentive, meaning Cavendish’s big season targets will come in France. Should the team want to attempt a defence for Wiggins - which they very likely will - Cavendish would be far less willing to take a back seat for a second time.

"If they want to go and do it again, why not?” he said. “The yellow jersey is the biggest prize in sport, but Dave's stated ambitions are not really involving sprinters or a green jersey or stage wins so that puts me in a position where I am lost.

"Rather than kicking and screaming I hope we can come to an amicable solution and we can have the best for both parties

"I've been very happy at Sky; I am still happy at Sky,” he explained. “It's the guys I grew up racing with, a management I grew up racing with. I don't want to compromise Sky and hopefully Sky won't compromise me.

"I've not said anything before, I've just heard things and read things. The Tour de France is hardest sprint event in the world and it became apparent this year that you can't go in with a two-pronged attack. I was incredibly proud to be part of that team that won a yellow – that was big thing in my career, it will go down as possibly the biggest thing of my career.”

Brailsford has stated recently that he would be willing to let Cavendish leave the team early, but has also hinted that the Manxman’s destination team - or Cavendish himself - might have to pay a release fee of up to a million pounds. This - on top of Cavendish’s probable multi-million pound salary - might make him too expensive for the team that wants to hire him.

"I've got a two-year contract with Sky and it will be interesting to see what Dave says,” he said. “Hopefully he won't keep me suppressed down. I don't want to keep Sky suppressed down either. I've heard talk of a release fee but I've known Dave since I was 14 and I don't think he will do that.

“Hopefully we can find an amicable solution."


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