Mark Cavendish's departure from Team Sky may not be as free and easy as thought. The World Champion may have to pay a “release fee” to be able to break his contract in order to transfer to another team.
"When a rider is under contract, it is common practice - and the industry norm - to pay a release fee," a Sky source told the BBC. The fee can be paid by either the new team or the rider himself.
For example, the source told the BBC, Sky paid compensation to Garmin-Slipstream when Bradley Wiggins left the American team for Sky in 2010.
The “release fee” is rumoured to be one million pounds. The BBC added that Cavendish and the team have had “no talks” in the past six weeks, leading to “varying degrees of frustration on both sides.”
Team Katusha, which had been interested in signing him, confirmed the story, when directeur sportif Valerio Piva this week said that “Cavendish still has two years left on his contract, so there is a hefty buy-out clause. I’m not sure what team would be willing to pay.”
It has long been expected that Cavendish will leave Sky despite his contract. The team has indicated that it wishes to concentrate on having Wiggins and Christopher Froome win grand tours, rather than helping a sprinter win individual stages.
Cavendish, 27, is said to be paid more than two million pounds a year, according to the BBC. This would make finding a team difficult. Several teams have been mentioned in connection with signing him for the coming season, including Omega Pharma-QuickStep and BMC Racing Team.