Cavendish, going, going, gone from Team Sky
Mark Cavendish wins Stage Two of the Tour de France (Image: ASO)
Just hours after Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, it appears that team mate Mark Cavendish will be leaving Team Sky.
Yesterday Sky general manager Dave Brailsford yesterday told the BBC that “If he felt, or if it was felt, that he would like a dedicated team around him, then he is quite within his rights to want to do that”
He continued: “This team will keep it’s general classification ambitions and I am sure that we will sit down and discuss that with Mark and see how he feels about that,”
This certainly paints the picture of a manager who knows his limitations and is prepared to accept that Sky cannot accommodate both a general classification rider and a green jersey contender in a Tour de France squad.
It is actually quite the embarrassment of riches for Brailsford and Sky to have, one of the best sprinters the world has seen alongside the first British Tour de France winner.
Backing either choice will lead to more success. This year he managed to balance both, however a lot of people felt that Cavendish never being close to a threat to the Green jersey could be a sore point.
It was. Three stage wins does not change the fact that the Sky team did not have his success as their number one priority and Cavendish wants out.
The question now becomes one of who can actually afford him?
Brian Holm hinted that he had heard Cavendish earns 2.4 million Euro per year (close to what Thor Hushovd is reported to be on at BMC but still less than Cadel Evans and Philippe Gilbert), so team budgets will play a big part on potential suitors.
The teams best positioned to be able to consider a move are:
Green Edge. Courted him last year and are set up for a sprinter. Goss is their number one sprinter and would not be too impressed if he moved there, however Goss’ season has been a little lean.
Rabobank. It is well known that the management aren’t happy with their lack of wins. They have the manpower to accommodate Cavendish and could ask Renshaw to go back to being his lead out man.
Omega Pharma. They also have the ability to shape a squad around him, especially if Tom Boonen is happy to sit out the remaining Tours.
Garmin. In spite of having a rising GC rider in Ryder Hesjedal, team director Jonathon Vaughters would find a way to fit Cavendish – budget however would likely be their biggest enemy.
Teams with less of a chance:
Saxo Bank. Will have Contador back for the Vuelta and he will expect a team built around him for the Tour de France next year. Cavendish trading his present situation for another that is just like it is unlikely.
Astana. All reports indicate they are chasing either Andy Schleck and/or Chris Froome (with Roman Krueziger’s time there appearing to be at an end). Don’t have much of a structure to change focus to a sprinter.
Radio Shack. Their future beyond 2012 is looking increasingly tenuous; do not expect Mark to entertain any team whose short to medium term future is not rock solid.
Lampre could be looking for a sprinter to replace Alessandro Petacchi – budget and team support again both issues.
The remaining teams have focuses that would either not allow Mark to join or have already settled on a sprinter. That said, when one of the calibre of Mark Cavendish comes on to the market it would certainly give every team manager a cause to ponder if he could indeed fit the rider into his team…
The joker in the pack here though is Specialized. It is no secret that they were a background sponsor of Mark Cavendish and would dearly love him back on their bikes.
This leaves those teams currently on Specialized with the chance that they could offset some of Mark’s wage by having their bike sponsor pick up some of the ‘tab’.
Which of the three teams on Specialized, Omega Pharma would have to be the front runners. Brian Holm is Mark’s sporting director at HTC as well as there being multiple HTC team mates now riding on the team.
It looks like a matter of when not if Cavendish will leave. Sooner rather than later would be best as last year’s courting process got beyond tedious.
A quick decision would be well appreciated, that way we can all get to speculating about what should be a mouth-watering contest with Peter Sagan for the 2013 Green jersey.