The question of where Mark Cavendish will ride in the coming season remains open. Team Sky have admitted that while they have an oral agreement with the world champion, nothing has yet been signed. Meanwhile, Patrick Lefevere has denied recent rumours that Cavendish will join the new Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
“It is quite complicated,” Dave Brailsford, Sky general manager, admitted to De Telegraaf. According to the Dutch newspaper, Cavendish signed up with the Wasserman management company in early September, and since winning the world title, “the new management is seeking to financially exploit the rainbow jersey.”
Brailsford is also the Performance Director for British Cycling, and thus responsible for the national team. He has indicated that the British team would do everything possible to help Cavendish win in the London Olympics next year, but that “it would be bitter” if Cavendish was “in the colours of a foreign team.”
The difficulties seems to be that of personal versus team sponsorship. Cavendish has a personal deal with Nike, while Sky's kit is supplied by Adidas, and Cavendish prefers a Specialized bike but Sky has a contract with Pinarello.
The bike question was at the root of the latest rumour suggesting Cavendish would ride for the new Omega Pharma-Quick Step team next year, which will be on Specialized bikes, but team manager Patrick Lefevere has firmly denied the story.
"This season I have not yet exchanged three words with Cavendish. I have negotiated with his friend and teammate Bernhard Eisel,” Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad. “He was quite clear to me and said: 'Sorry, but Mark needs to go to Sky for many reasons and I am going along. We have now been signed.' So, to my knowledge Cavendish is no longer free.”