Mark Cavendish admits Sky will have to provide more opportunities should it want him to continue his prolific winning ways.

The 27 year old was proud to be part of the team that made British cycling history last week, with Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France and Chris Froome finishing second.

But Cavendish, despite winning three stages himself, including a record fourth consecutive win the Champs-Élysées, had mixed emotions throughout the race and a lack of helpers in sprint finishes contributed to transfer rumours that he neither confirmed nor denied.

The world champion is accustomed to having a team dedicated to his ambitions but this year he largely flew solo with Sky focused on realising its founding objective of winning the Tour with Wiggins.

“It’d be favourable,” Cavendish told Cycling Weekly, referring to having more riders devoted to his Tour aims. “It depends what the team wants. If the team wants me to succeed then I need more opportunity.”

Cavendish won his first stage of the 2012 Tour without a lead-out. He was forced to forgo sprint opportunities in the second week but came back with two emphatic victories in the third.

The 2011 maillot vert champion ended the 99th edition of the race on a jubilant note but said he often felt like a “spare part” and was in “no-man’s land” in the immediate lead-up.

“Having a team built around stage wins, you could always be there up for the sprints. It’s a lot harder when you have to be plucky, have to take your chances and you have to hope for a sprint,” he said.

“We’ve got first and second on GC, I’ve done what I can for the team, but as a sprinter I’ve kind of just drifted through.”

Cavendish’s frustration was compounded because of the rainbow bands on his back and his contribution to the race, which now stands at 23 stage wins over six years.

Sky management said Cavendish knew of his position entering the Tour but the Manxman was under a different impression when he signed a three-year contract with the British-based squad: “Initially, I thought, when I signed, I’d have more helpers, and I did ask, but I can’t be angry,” he said. “We won the yellow jersey.”

Cavendish refused to comment on team transfer rumours that surfaced at the Tour. If true, it would require Sky to either let him go or have another team organise a buy-out. Asked if his contract, negotiated meticulously by his agent, included an exit clause Cavendish said, “I don’t know”.

When asked if the marquee sprinter could leave the team before the end of his contract, Sky boss Dave Brailsford stated: “If he felt, or if it was felt, that he would that he would like a dedicated team around him, then he is quite within his rights to want to do that.”

Cavendish was not the only rider who sacrificed personal ambition for the sake of Wiggins’s, albeit well-earned, yellow jersey campaign.

Sky’s team composition worked this year – with two riders on the podium and six stage victories altogether – but there is the potential for conflicting agendas in 2013. Froome has indicated he’d like more of a leadership role next, Cavendish is likely to want the support he is used to, Wiggins could embark on a title defence then there’s Edvald Boasson Hagen plus the return of Geraint Thomas from the track.

“It’s up to the team management,” Cavendish said of future Tour selections.

The London 2012 gold medal hopeful said it was the prospect of Sky claiming the yellow jersey, and not the lure of the Olympic Games, that made his Tour sacrifices easier this season. He will have the full backing of the Great Britain national team, including Wiggins, at Saturday’s Olympic road race, which he is clearly in form for.

Related links
London 2012 Olympic Games: Coverage index
Cavendish recognises advantage in missed Tour opportunities
Mark Cavendish: Rider profile

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  • Mark Jones

    With G back next year they might have a decent lead out for him with Boasson Hagan and then G as the final man. It all depends what their ambitions are for next year with a tougher route.

  • Giulio Napolitani

    Surely the dirty digger has enough cash to put up a Team Sky “Yellow” and a Team Sky “Sprint” for next year? Heck, while he’s about it, why not a Team Sky “Climb” as well to satisfy Froome’s ambitions?

    The point seemed to be, with this year’s TdF that it wasn’t the lack of ability, since Sky did manage to deliver Cav for sprints (even if they dropped him off rather early), it was the lack of will on the part of the team management. The focus was clearly very tightly on securing yellow for Twiggo, to the exclusion of all else.

    Had Sean Yates been prepared to be slightly more adventurous Cav could have had five stages and Chris Froome could have had his second mountain stage – the impression I got was that Wiggo was urging him to go on and take the stage, but that Yates made him stay. Having said that, I can absolutely see Yates’ point of view and in his position I would have done the same, for fear of an unexpected Merckx, Armstrong or (this year) Cav type crowd “interaction”.

    Of course, Cav will do whatever he thinks best for him but, assuming that Brailsford’s comments don’t constitute a “thanks and goodbye”, with a broader focus on the management side and perhaps a Mark Renshaw type final lead out man, he could get what he wants without having to walk away from Sky.

  • roginoz

    listen cavie-mate-grasshopper… did fine without lead out trains everywhere….how did hoban hoste kelly abdu win then……see the mantis on the twig ……..if it is not grounded with a LITTLE humility its head will grow and fall off…..perhaps it gets greener by looking at the progress of the wiggobug and the humble froomebug…reflect grasshopper.

  • Proud to be British

    A dynamic sprinter though he is, there is an arrogance bordering on petulance with Cavendish, with an element of entitlement thrown in. Like Froome, the bottom line was that they were both keen to sign to Sky for this current season. The healthy salary and publicity that goes with the team placing likely eased the decision making progress.

    They must have been complete numpties or have walked around with a bucket of sand over the heads however, not to have realised that this season would have been about getting a maximum result for Wiggins in the Tour. As it turned out the Sky Team tactics were justified with a worthy victory for Wiggins. It is a little disconcerting to keep hearing the same hard done by story from Cavendish; we had all that with the Bejing Madison.

  • T Anderson

    All the recent speculation about Chris Froome moving on, but it is Cav who is in the wrong team. If he was riding for another team similar to HTC, perhaps we would be celebrating 9 or 10 GB wins in the tour.

  • Terry

    Leave him alone, he looked more than happy in Paris when he threw a huge hug around Sir Bradley Wiggins!!
    If he hadn’t been knocked off his bike so often in the early stages he would have had at least 2 more wins.
    Then there was the mass pile up which delayed him getting in the mix for another.

  • Lucas

    I must admit I was surprised Cav ended up at Sky. How can they hope to keep both the Yellowjersey and the worlds best road sprinter happy?

    It was a shame the Manx leadout train was not running at the tour, there was always something missing at the end of the sprint stages. In the past, as with Cippolini, the excitement was palpable when Cavs train started fo form at the front and the other sprinters teams tried to upset the smooth running of the juggernaut.

    Hope to see it back soon.

  • Ken Evans

    Can other teams afford him ?

    Another GB sponsor like Sky would be great,
    there are several UK brands that could benefit
    from the publicity that Cav would bring.