Omega Pharma-Quick Step confirms Mark Cavendish deal as Sky pays tribute to departing rider
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Omega Pharma-Quick Step confirms Mark Cavendish deal as Sky pays tribute to departing rider

by Ben Atkins at 12:27 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
“We all wish Mark the very best with his future ambitions,” says Dave Brailsford

mark cavendishIn a long drawn out transfer saga, almost as long as the one that saw him join Team Sky at the end of 2011, it has finally been confirmed that Mark Cavendish is to join Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 2013. The Belgian team has now officially confirmed the news, while Team Sky’s principle Dave Brailsford has released a statement paying tribute to his departing rider.

Despite taking 15 of Team Sky's 50 wins in 2012, Cavendish has got what he wanted as he secures an "amicable separation" from the British team.

“Mark is one of the most outstanding riders in cycling, a true star recognized internationally for his unique style and irrefutable athletic skills” said Omega Pharma-Quick Step team owner Zdeněk Bakala. “His extraordinary sprint have become a cycling 'must-see' that can fire up crowds the world over. 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,” he added. “This year our hard work and commitment have already taken us among the best teams in the world in the UCI rankings and carried us to victory in the Team Time Trial World Championships.”

Having seen out just one year of his three-year deal with Team Sky, Cavendish has been allowed to leave so that his personal ambitions don’t clash with those of the team as it defends Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France title.

"After a year of being part of the successes at Team Sky I've decided to leave to join Omega Pharma-Quick Step Cycling Team to pursue different goals,” said the 2011 World champion. “It's been an incredibly fun year riding with friends I've grown up with but I'm super excited about riding with old friends and team-mates in one of the most successful and established teams in cycling. I believe in the team’s project and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

With his two sprinters Francesco Chicchi and Gerard Ciolek departing at the end of the season, and with Belgian champion Tom Boonen no longer having the appetite for the rough and tumble of big bunch sprints, Omega Pharma-Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere is understandably delighted to have secured the signature of ‘the fastest man on two wheels.’

“Mark is the best sprinter in the world and one of the all time best sprinters, ever," he said. "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.

“Mark will also find a time-tested technical staff on the team,” he added, “as well as high calibre athletes eager to work with him to reach new, grand goals together."

Negotiations with Team Sky were led by Bessel Kok, the chairman of the team’s board, and he too expressed his pleasure at securing one of the sport’s biggest names.

“Mark is one of the most important athletes of his generation, a sports icon,” said Kok. “He is a great sprinter but he also has a fantastic personality, which he always demonstrated during his career. With Mark joining the team, we will be able to count on another athlete with a modern vision of cycling tied to development, technological innovation and communication.”

Team Sky’s Dave Brailsford pays tribute to his departing rider

“Mark has been a true champion for Team Sky this year,” said Brailsford in an official statement. “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.”

Despite joining what was a British Dream Team this year, Cavendish was forced to put his personal ambitions to one side in the Tour de France as Sky put most of its efforts into winning the race through Bradley Wiggins. Even so, the then World champion did so uncomplainingly, despite admitting his disappointment at not being able to compete for his usual number of stage victories.

“He has been a real team player, making history in a Tour de France winning team,” said Brailsford. “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-Élysées.”

Cavendish did receive some support in the Tour however, with Wiggins himself putting his considerable horsepower to his friend’s disposal in both the 18th stage into Brive-la-Gaillard, and the final stage in Paris.

“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,” Brailsford explained. “Mark also gets what Team Sky stands for and has been a real ambassador, on and off the bike, helping to inspire more people to ride and to love this sport.”

Although Cavendish had originally signed a three-year deal with Team Sky, it has been universally agreed that the best thing for British cycling would be for Wiggins to aim at a second Tour de France, with Cavendish allowed to chase as many victories as possible in a team dedicated to him. For this reason the Manxman has been released from the final two years of his contract, and will join Omega Pharma-Quick Step on January 1st.

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

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