Mark Cavendish may not be the number one ranked rider this season (that honor belongs to Phillipe Gilbert), but he did win the World Road Race Championship in Copenhagen last month.
Which helps him (not that he needed the help) when it comes to picking who he’ll ride for next season. He’s taking his sweet time choosing which sponsors he’ll bring money to, and he’s not afraid to back out of a “deal” even if non-cycling papers were all twitterpated about it.
The rumor mill had it that Cavendish was going to sign with Britain’s Team Sky. Bicycling’s Joe Lindsey was so sure the Boy Racer was going to Sky. So sure that he only paid it a few paragraphs in a column about the move. But now things are up in the air, and Cavendish is now rumored to follow his bike sponsor (and half of his lead out train) to the newly merged Omega Pharma – Quickstep. Apparently Mark doesn’t like Pinarellos.
Nothing is finalized but Quickstep seems like a much better place for Boy Racer. Team Sky already has a stated purpose of winning The Tour de France. Having a grade A sprinter on a team is at odds with that desire. Setting up a functional lead out train for a stage win is a different beast than protecting a GC contender in the mountains. However, if Cavendish is to move to Omega Pharma – Quickstep it could spell doom for the GC dreams of both Levi Leipheimer and newly minted World Time Trial Champion (and former Manx Missile lead out man) Tony Martin.
The Inner Ring has a good write up on the power of bike manufactures to shape a team, which can be read here. In addition to Omega Pharma – Quickstep Specialized is on tap to provide bikes for Team Astana and Saxo-Bank. With Cantador at Saxo I think it’s a safe bet that Cavendish won’t be headed there. Either way, Boy Racer is going to have to think of a new victory salute, as signing the popping of pills probably isn’t a good move for someone in cycling.
edit: fixed a typo in the second paragraph. It doesn’t help me if Cav gets a job. Thanks to blambrix for the catch and call out.