Mark Cavendish has claimed that he feels abused by his HTC-Columbia team and that his success hasn't been met with any bonuses or extra payments.
Speaking at a press conference in Delhi ahead of the Commonwealth Games road race the sprinter has added fuel to the speculation that he is destined to leave for Team Sky. "I'm kind of abused for what I've achieved but I've been contracted to do it, so I have to do it," he said.
"The pressures are incredible. I know the people around me appreciate that it's like that [but] I'm not sure anymore if my team does, not my team as a whole but the manager."
Cavendish is under contract until the end of 2011 with HTC, but beyond that nothing is decided. "I'm committed to a contract I signed a few years ago. There's been no goodwill, no bonuses, nothing. I haven't been offered another contract yet so I don't know why that is."
Mark Cavendish started his career with T-Mobile when it was taken over by American Bob Stapleton at the end of 2007, and there is a belief that the team has kept him on a cheap deal ever since. As one of the highest profile riders in the sport, Cavendish may now think he is worth much more.
Stapleton, a canny businessman with a self-made fortune appeared to give Cavendish his support when he let HTC's other sprinter Andre Geipel leave for Omega Pharma Lotto. He has extended the contracts of many of Cavendish's lead-out riders and that of Sports Director Brian Holm, but is currently looking for a second sponsor as the Columbia deal comes to an end this year.
His comments will come as music to the ears of Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford who has the money to sign Cavendish, but perhaps not the riders to support the best sprinter in the world. With their aim of winning the Tour de France, it's hard to see how Sky can support Cavendish with a sprint train while also working for an overall contender.
Cavendish is one of the favourites for tomorrow's Commonwealth Games road race. Riding for the Isle of Man he may have to call on the support of the other home nations if they are to stop the Australian team from winning another gold medal.
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