World champion Mark Cavendish completed his move to Team Sky on Tuesday after several weeks of speculation linking the rider to the British-based outfit. Dave Brailsford, the Team Sky Principal and British Cycling’s performance director, confirmed the widely expected news that Cavendish will race for his team from next year. Cavendish, 26, last month became the first British male to win the world title since 1965, the crowning achievement of a season which also saw him win the sprinter’s green jersey in the Tour de France.
“Mark is a born winner and what excites me most is the attitude he brings to all the teams he rides for,” Brailsford said. “We want to inspire more fans to get into cycling and I can think of no-one better to help us do that. We are delighted that the new world champion will be riding for Team Sky next season.”
The deal to sign Cavendish is a major success for Brailsford and he admits he can’t wait to work with the one of the best cyclists of his era.
“Mark is the greatest sprinter of his generation and is well on his way to becoming the greatest of all time,” Brailsford added. “He is a rider of exceptional talent who has proved his pedigree at the very highest level of our sport.”
Cavendish has won 20 Tour de France stages in his career and a further 10 stages across the two other Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of Spain. He expects his move to Team Sky to be the catalyst for even more success in the future.
“I’m confident that we can achieve success with the guys at Sky and my aim is to win stages and the green jersey at the Tour de France,” Cavendish said
Cavendish will be reunited with several of his Great Britain colleagues at Team Sky, including three-time Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas. Wiggins would seem to have most to lose from Cavendish’s arrival as he will no longer be the team’s pre-eminent rider, but he said: “Team Sky has enjoyed a fantastic second season and Mark’s signing is another statement of our intent for next year and beyond.”
Geraint Thomas, who along with Wiggins was part of the squad which helped Cavendish to win the world road race, added: “Cav joining Team Sky is fantastic news. In many ways it’s like he’s coming home – the team has a number of riders and support staff that he grew up with and it won’t take him any time to settle in.”
Moving to Team Sky in time for next year’s Olympic Games is a bonus for Cavendish, who will start as favorite in the road race in London.
“When we started with Team Sky everyone questioned the dual role of the team, did it conflict, and they couldn’t see the advantage, but in Mark’s case when you look at the Olympic road race we can make sure he has an optimal program going into 2012,” Brailsford said.
“Previously we would have been negotiating with his pro team, hoping that they would have empathy with us, because they would consider he had different goals. “As it is, he can ride all the start of next year alongside some of the British riders who are likely to support him in the Games.”
Team Sky also announced the signing of Austrian Bernie Eisel, one of Cavendish’s close friends and favored support riders at his previous team HTC-Highroad.