Newly-crowned road race world champion Mark Cavendish is at the centre of more speculation relating to which team he will sign to for the 2012 season.

The new round of rumours link the Manx sprint sat to the Belgian Omega Pharma-Quick Step team. The rumours were fuelled by the announcement on Monday that Cavendish’s HTC-Highroad bike sponsor Specialized has inked a deal with Omega Pharma for 2012 – and Specialized are said to be Cavendish’s bike of choice.

In addition, Cavendish’s former HTC-Highroad director sportif Brian Holm has also been signed up by Omega Pharma along with team-mates Matt Brammeier, Tony Martin, Frantisek Rabon, Martin Velits and Peter Velits.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step general manager Patrick Lefevre was quick to quash the rumours, saying that he had already signed the maximum number of riders allowed on a ProTeam (30) and that they couldn’t afford to sign Cavendish anyway.

Cavendish is hot property. A consistent, reliable winner who has won two of the sport’s biggest prizes this year – the Tour de France green jersey and world championship title. He was recently ranked as 35th most marketable athlete in the world by Sports Pro Media.

Despite most riders having already announced their teams for 2012, Cavendish has held out on making a formal announcement until after the World Championships. Sensibly, he has kept the ace up his sleeve before finalising a new contract – a rider in rainbow stripes is worth much more, and Cavendish must now be at the absolute peak of his earning potential. A deal worth at least €1.5 to 2million a year is not out of the question.

“It’s not about the money,” Cavendish said in August. “I have a value, I’ll get the same money whichever team I’ll go to. I want to go the best place that will help me win.”

Current rumours aside, Cavendish has been consistently linked with the British-based Sky team since it was created in 2009. The team includes several management figures who have been instrumental in helping Cavendish achieve success on the road. Most important of these is GB coach Rod Ellingworth, who set out a three-year plan to get Cavendish in the rainbow jersey.

It is understood that Cavendish and loyal lead-out man/super-domestique Bernhard Eisel had both reached an agreement with Sky after the Tour de France, where Cavendish won the green jersey.

However, no contracts were signed with Sky and in September Cavendish has signed up with the Wasserman Media Group, an agency that represents several top sportspeople including footballers Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard.

Wasserman will likely broker any new deal that comes Cavendish’s way, and will also be looking after his personal sponsorships deals from the likes of Nike and Oakley. It signals a new, perhaps more aggressive phase in marketing Cavendish as a global brand.

Wasserman senior vice president Simon Bayliff said of Cavendish’s signing to the agency: “Mark is one of the world’s top sportsmen and we’re looking forward to helping him to realise his ambitions and achieve his goals in this key phase of his career. He’s an exceptional talent and his successes to date simply underline his potential to become one of the greatest cyclists of all time.”

Cavendish is excepted to announce which team he will be riding for in the next week. His first race in the rainbow jersey will be Paris-Tours on Sunday.

Related links

Which way now for Mark Cavendish?

Cycling Weekly’s Transfer Index

Cavendish’s first race in rainbow jersey at Paris-Tours

Cavendish decides destination for 2012

Mark Cavendish: Rider profile

Comment: Speculation on budgets all pie in the Sky

  • Mark Jones

    I’m a big fan of Cav and what he has done for the sport in the UK is great. Cav has raised the bar for other British cyclists and has brought the sport to a larger audience.

    But I’m getting sick of this now and he needs to sign somewhere. Omega QS have said they aren’t interested and we haven’t heard of any other teams in the hunt for his signature, so how can he (or his agent if that’s the case) dictate so much. Where can Cav go after the green jersey and World Champion? The money spent on Cav would be better spent on developing future talents not to mention his impact on the existing team particularly in terms of GC with the likes of Wiggo, Froome and G.

  • Frank Green

    James the first two comments are spot on, hes the best in world at hiding and sprinting, no doubt about it but he doesnt have to concentrate on every grand tour stage- a gc rider must concentrate and ride himself into the ground on every stage- how can he be the best british cyclist ever? Robert millar by far.

  • J Dunn

    If sprinting is boring is going up hills somehow more interesting? Of course not.

    A lot of people commenting here obviously weren’t watching during the tedious Arsmstrong years where the peloton rode along like a train going nowhere. People switched off in droves.

    In fact by injecting some suspense, sprinting has saved cycling.

  • matspeed

    Let’s make every stage of a grand tour 1km long…….only kidding but you get my point. Top sprinter yes, compared to the best eg Armstrong? Not even on the same playing field.

  • matt

    He’s World Champion, climbing the Tour Stage Win rankings at a rate of knots, Green jersey winner in both the Tour & Vuelta and a stage winner in all 3 Grand Tours and then throw in a Milan-San Remo win – arguably the best ever British pro-road cyclists, undoubtedly in the top 3 (and the other 2 are retired or dead). So yes to any British Cycling fan his whereabouts are probably something to care about.

    I still hope he doesn’t sign for Sky, with Froome announcing himself there appears to be even less room for Cav. Would be great to see Sky competing for the GC and ‘interesting’ stages (everyone loves an exciting time-trial) and have Cav on another team (with Bernie Eisel) to mop up all the other (oh, so boring) sprints – everyones happy.

  • James

    Are you guys insane – matspeed, steve macdonald – for the first time in who knows how long British cyclists are featuring not just in the top 10 or 20 but ‘1st’. These guys are putting UK cycling on the map. As someone who raced in the late 70’s – early 80’s when support for racing cycling in the UK was below non existent this is massive. Our sport needs 10 more Cav’s. Who cares if he wins by 10cm or by 10km. A win is a win and hopefully all these young lads and girls who watched Cavendish sprint to the green jersey in the tour and again sprint to victory (assisted by incredibly amazing team mates!) in the road race championship will get inspired and hopefully become interested enought to want to do the same. Some of them may become sprinters and some of them may become tour winners – who knows, but at least they were inspired to be great by a true champ. Amazing I say.

  • robin

    I have reached the point of not really caring now, it’s being going on for so long. I’d rather see him for a team other than Sky as I suspect it’ll detract from the progress Wiggins and more importantly Geraint Thomas are making.

    If as I suspect the problems are financial, I can’t blame the guy for milking it whilst he can, but it does begin to look a little like greed.

    That said, he’s incredible at what he does and I’m a fan.

  • Pete

    It’s worth pointing out that “the world’s 35th most marketable athlete” was back in May. And now?

  • steve macdonald

    matspeed,youre spot on.i appreciate that he is the best in the world at what he does but theyre expecting people to get excited at tour stages where nothing happens except for the last 20 seconds.these are not what will be remembered as great stages in 20 years time and id rather watch one mountain stage for every 100 sprints.The main story in the uk just now should be froome nearly winning the vuelta-indeed his own team lost it for him as opposed to the dubious “homer”tactics that cost robert millar 25 years ago

  • matspeed

    Do we really care? Sprinting is all very well and he’s one of the best, if not the best – but it’s a boring aspect of cycling………