Mark Cavendish has added fuel to the rumours surrounding his future after openly criticising his pro team (and pay masters) – HTC-Columbia at a Commonwealth Games press conference on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s road race.
Cavendish, who joined the then Team Highroad in 2008, is under contract with HTC-Columbia until the end of 2011. Speculation has been that Bob Stapleton (owner of HTC-Columbia) has kept Cav on a cheap deal, something which he may now be beginning to regret with Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford no doubt keen to bring Cav to British based Team Sky.
Speaking to journalists, Cav said:
I’m committed to a contract I signed a a few years ago. There’s been no goodwill, no bonuses, nothing. I’m kind of abused for what I’ve achieved but I’ve been contracted to do it, so I have to do it.
Brailsford, who tried to sign Cavendish a year ago, has the money to sign him but perhaps not the riders to support him. It’s hard to see how Sky can commit enough riders to Cav’s sprint train while also being overall contenders in the Tour de France.
Cav went on to say:
Fundamentally I ride my bike because I love to ride my bike. But [with] the pressures, the normal person’s life that I’ve lost, you should see the benefits coming with that and I don’t get that. I’m disappointed with that.
It will be interesting to see how this develops. With 15 Tour de France stage wins to his name, victory in the Milan-San Remo classic and the Green points jersey in Vuelta a Espana this year, there will be no shortage of teams wanting to sign him.
However, with Columbia’s sponsorship ending, will Stapleton be able to offer the speedy response required as the search for a replacement sponsor continues?
Will HTC-Columbia offer him a new contract? Can Brailsford demonstrate that Team Sky have the riders to support the world class sprinter, or will Cav once again snub Team Sky’s advances?