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Cavendish revels in Commonwealth Games support role

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) has criticised riders who cited health concerns in opting not to travel to Delhi to compete in the Commonwealth Games. The Manxman finished 7th in the road race and then stayed on in India to act as an unpaid helper to the Isle of Man team.

“The guys who stayed away made a mistake,” Cavendish told The Observer. “If you look after yourself you won’t catch anything. As a single guy you run a risk if you sleep with a girl. Risks come with everything.”

After the road race, Cavendish was fulsome in his praise of his five amateur teammates. In recognition of their efforts, he delayed his return home by four days in order to act as a helper to the Isle of Man team, driving the team car during Andrew Roche’s 12th-place finish in the time trial.

"I didn't want to just swan about in sunglasses; I was even wiping his back after the warm-up,” Cavendish said. “The thing is, I know what it's like to be looked after, and these guys gave 100 per cent for me in the road race."

Cavendish recently cited his frustration that his HTC-Columbia team had not offered him a new contract commensurate with his achievements on the bike and he said that the blame lay with the team’s failure to land a replacement sponsor for Columbia. The sportswear company is ending its association with the team at the end of 2010.

"We're the most successful team on the planet and something is wrong when we don't have enough sponsors,” Cavendish said. “Ninety nine per cent of people on the team, riders and staff, are not just performing, but over-performing. There are a couple of people whose job it is to get new sponsors and it's frustrating when they can't and we suffer for it. I'm just frustrated because I've been massively underpaid this year and next because for some reason we can't get more sponsors."

In spite of his frustration at his salary, Cavendish reiterated his desire to stay with the team, where a dedicated lead-out train has built up around him over the past three seasons. However, as the man ultimately responsible for bringing home such a sizeable proportion of the HTC bacon, Cavendish is aggrieved that he is not receiving his fair share.

“I love the team, I love where I am. It's the best place to do what I want to do, which is ride my bike and have fun and win, but if everything rests on you, you shouldn't have that feeling of being taken advantage of. I don't want to extort anything, I am a loyal person but I want to be paid fairly.”

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.