Mark Cavendish will ride for Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl in 2022 and join his teammates at a get together in Calpe, Spain next week, with team manager Patrick Lefevere confirming that a deal has finally been done with the Manxman.
Cavendish was expected to agree a new one-year deal and sign a contract after the Ghent Six. However, he crashed hard on the final day of racing and will need several weeks off the bike to recover from fractured ribs and a punctured lung. Lefevere put Cavendish’s health before any deal but has now revealed they have reached an agreement and Cavendish will travel to Spain for the official team photograph that sanctifies his presence at the Belgian team in 2022.
"Mark wanted an extension to his fairy tale and I didn't want to take that away from him," Lefevere told Sporza and other Belgian media after the presentation of a deal between his team and the Belgian city of Ypres to promote cycling holidays in the area.
“It’s a done deal. He will stay with us for another year. Only the signature is missing but that will happen soon.”
Cavendish secured a place at Deceuninck-QuickStep for 2021 after several difficult years fighting Epstein Barr syndrome and depression. He was so keen to return to the Belgian team that he helped to find sponsorship to cover his basic salary. He then proved his worth by returning to victory at the Tour of Turkey and stepped up when Sam Bennett was unable to ride the Tour de France. His return to the Tour became a miraculous return to France, with him winning four sprint stages, the green points jersey and equaling Eddy Merckx's stage victory record.
Mark Cavendish: it was either Patrick Lefevere and Deceuninck-QuickStep or I stopped racing
Lefevere: I’ve reached an agreement on wages and bonuses with Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish exits Ghent Six on stretcher after crash in Madison
Cavendish has since revealed he was tempted to announce his retirement if he had won the final stage of the Tour on the Champs-Élysées. However, he only finished third and soon realised he wanted to race on in 2022.
"I wanted Mark to win a fifth stage in Paris and say Ciao there but athletes who get older have a hard time saying goodbye," Lefevere said.
"After the presentation of the Tour in Paris in October, we sat together again. I then asked him if he would like to race for another year. He said yes, even if he had won on the Champs-Élysées. What happens next? We don’t know that yet but I'm not committing for more than a year."
Cavendish and Lefevere have been in negotiations since the Tour de France but struggled to agree terms after his success in 2021.
Lefevere said in September that they had reached an agreement on wages and bonuses but they remained stuck on Cavendish's desire to transition into a management role after his career.
"Mark Cavendish thinks his image is valuable, but I also think of the image of my team," Lefevere said at the time. "When I ask him what he wants to do, he says he wants to watch me and learn. But do I have to pay someone to learn?"
Lefevere indicated that this final aspect has now been resolved but did not say if he will mentor or employ Cavendish after his racing career ends.
"Everyone knows the story by now: when managers and lawyers come into play, it gets more difficult," Lefevere explained.
"It took a long time but it didn't make me impatient, I knew it would happen. But at some point you hand it over and when the contract is done, you let the people get on with it."
Cavendish will need several weeks off the bike to make a full recovery from his Ghent Six injuries. However, he has to travel to Spain for a series of team meetings and official 2022 photographs.
“Mark will be there but is not allowed to fly yet due to the injuries, so he travels to Spain by car,” Lefevere said.
“The riders have a programme of activity from 8am to 8pm with obligations, exercises and tests. During the first few days they’ll hardly ride their bikes but we want him to be there.
“Is our team photo complete with Mark? In principle, yes," Lefevere concluded.
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