While Mark Cavendish’s team for 2013 remains the subject of some speculation, the Manxman will not be joining Katusha, according to directeur sportif Valerio Piva.
Although under contract with Sky for two more years, Cavendish has been heavily linked with a move away from the British team, whose focus in the grand tours is largely on the general classification aspirations of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Katusha have been among the teams touted as possible landing spots for Cavendish should he free himself of his contract, but Piva said that his team is no longer in the running to sign the world champion.
“Obviously we showed real interest in Mark,” Piva told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Katusha wants to win as much as possible and a top sprinter like Mark gives you guarantees. But 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.”
Piva worked with Cavendish in the Highroad set-up before the team disbanded at the end of 2011, while another former Highroad directeur sportif – Brian Holm – is in situ at Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
“There were contacts with his personal manager but in the last few weeks I haven’t heard anything more,” Piva said. “To my knowledge, he is no longer an option for our team.”
Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has already stated that he would welcome Cavendish’s arrival, while Bradley Wiggins has publicly wondered if Cavendish would be better served by leaving Sky. Cavendish is set to line up alongside Wiggins at the Tour of Britain next week.