Mark Cavendish on the transfer market as he looks to extend career

BALATONFURED HUNGARY MAY 08 Mark Cavendish of United Kingdom and Team QuickStep Alpha Vinyl celebrates winning the stage on the podium ceremony after the 105th Giro dItalia 2022 Stage 3 a 201km stage from Kaposvr to Balatonfred Giro WorldTour on May 08 2022 in Balatonfured Hungary Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Mark Cavendish is on the transfer market as the British sprinter looks to extend his career and continue racing in 2023.

The 37-year-old had expressed interested in a backroom staff role at QuickStep-AlphaVinyl during negotiations that eventually led to a one-year contract extension last winter.

After his remarkable comeback last season from years of illness and injury, Cavendish has started the 2022 campaign strongly and is now keen to continue sprinting and winning races in the coming years. 

He has enlisted the services of a new rider agent, Martijn Berkhout of SEG Cycling, in the hope of finding the best possible fit for 2023. Berkhout, who runs the cycling division of the SEG agency alongside his brother, represents a raft of WorldTour riders, including Dylan van Baarle and Bauke Mollema.

A move away from QuickStep would therefore appear increasingly likely. Cavendish credited the Belgian team – where he previously rode between 2013 and 2015 – with reviving his career in 2021 and he didn't seriously look elsewhere at the end of that season. 

However, this week Wielerflits reported that Cavendish's services for 2023 had already been offered to numerous WorldTour teams. Contacted by Cyclingnews, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl boss Patrick Lefevere indicated there had been no negotiations from his end as yet. 

There are ongoing in-house tensions surrounding selection for the Tour de France, with Fabio Jakobsen a leading candidate for the sprinting role despite Cavendish winning four stages last year to tie Eddy Merckx's all-time record of 34 victories. Cavendish is currently racing the Giro d'Italia, where he won stage 3, and has expressed fears about the Tour becoming a rivalry story that threatens his friendship with Jakobsen.

On top of the Jakobsen question, Cyclingnews understands Lefevere is interested in acquiring a Belgian sprinter for 2023 given his sponsorship portfolio will expand to include Belgian company Soudal - currently with Belgian WorldTour rivals, Lotto Soudal. 

Tim Merlier, the former cyclo-cross rider who has won stages at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia among a string of wins in the past two seasons, has been heavily linked to QuickStep.

Cavendish came close to ending his career at the end of 2020 after a barren few years in which he suffered from Epstein Barr Virus and depression. He was handed a lifeline by Lefevere and set about an extraordinary comeback that saw him return to winning ways at the Tour of Turkey before Sam Bennett's knee injury opened the door to that dream Tour de France. 

Negotiations for a contract extension began early but dragged on deep into the winter, with Lefevere indicating he was happy to offer Cavendish another year but that the rider was pushing for some sort of post-racing management or coaching role to be attached.

That role was never confirmed publicly, and it now appears possible Cavendish could wind up elsewhere in 2023. 

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Patrick Fletcher
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.