Cavendish, who won four stages and the green jersey at this year's Tour de France in a stunning return to form, was widely expected to sign a contract after the recent 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.
Team manager Patrick Lefevere put Cavendish’s health before any deal, but he revealed last week that they have reached an agreement and Cavendish travelled to Spain for the team’s December training camp.
"I am incredibly proud and happy to have agreed a new deal with Deceuninck-QuickStep," Cavendish said in a statement released by the team.
"One year ago, when I came to the team, I did not hide my admiration for what this team does and how happy I was to be back here. I knew from my first time here that this squad has a unique family feeling, and it is a culture that remains to this day.
"The last 12 months have been phenomenal and the support that I have had from the team and the staff has made me very emotional at times. I am really looking forward to making some more special memories together over the next 12 months."
Cavendish secured what was a second spell at QuickStep for 2021 after several difficult years fighting Epstein-Barr syndrome and depression while with the Dimension Data team. He was more consistent at Bahrain-Merida in 2020, but was not offered a place for 2021.
So keen way he to return to the 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 three weeks, with him winning four sprint stages, the green points jersey and equaling Eddy Merckx's stage victory record.
Lefevere said in September that he and Cavendish had reached an agreement on wages and bonuses but they remained stuck on the Manxman’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 last week that this final aspect has now been resolved but did not say if he will mentor or employ Cavendish after his racing career ends. The announcement from QuickStep also failed to mention if Cavendish will retire after the 2022 season and his post-career plans with the team. He focussed on praising Cavendish’s team spirit when his 2022 contract was confirmed.
“The whole world saw what he did this year. What they didn’t see though is the way that he speaks and leads within the team and encourages everyone,” he said.
“We have a very close group here and Mark always embodies that spirit, and while he may be the one that crosses the line with his hands in the air, he is the first to recognise the work that the team does as well, which means a lot to everyone. We are more than happy that we can continue the story with Mark for one more year.”
Heading into 2022, Cavendish has 156 wins on his palmarès during a 16-year professional career. He won the world title in Copenhagen in 2011 while riding for HTC-High Road, and has won stages in all three Grand Tours, as well as Milan-San Remo on his debut in 2009.
He has 34 stage wins at the Tour de France, but it remains to be seen if he will be part of Deceuninck-QuickStep’s team for the 2022 race. The squad has lost Sam Bennett and Alvaro Hodeg over the winter, but Fabio Jakobsen has made a near complete recovery from his terrible crash at the 2020 Tour de Pologne, winning three stages at the Vuelta a España.
Bennett and Hodeg are joined on the outgoing list by Shane Archbold, João Almeida, and Ian Garrison, while Cavendish's contract extension means that the Belgian team have now completed their roster for the 2022 season.
The team has renewed numerous other key riders in addition to the signings of Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix), Mauro Schmid (Qhubeka NextHash), and neo-pros Ethan Vernon, Stan Van Tricht, and Martin Svrcek.
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