Star sprinter Mark Cavendish will race in 2019 with Dimension Data after reaching a last-minute deal for an additional year, according to reports.
Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Cavendish will stay at Dimension Data.
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The deal, if confirmed, will see the Manxman racing his fourth year with the South African team after he joined in 2016.
Relationships appeared rocky between him and general manager Doug Ryder after the Tour de France in summer.
Last month, Cavendish was believed to be talking with Team Bahrain Merida. A potential move hinged on the team making a sponsorship deal with McLaren Technology Centre in Surrey.
At the same time, Dimension Data added sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo. The also team announced several new cyclists for its Grand Tour and Classics teams, including Roman Kreuziger, Michael Valgren, and Enrico Gasparotto.
According to one source, Ryder and Cavendish were not speaking and the contract renewal appeared unlikely. However, a meeting apparently took place and a deal made.
Cavendish is second only to Eddy Merckx when counting Tour de France stage wins, the Manx sprinter has 30 compared to Merckx’s 34.
In terms of total wins, out of active riders, only André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) counts more with 155 compared to Cavendish’s 146.
Cavendish’s last Tour de France stage win came in 2016, when he celebrated four times.
In 2017, he crashed with Peter Sagan and was forced to abandon.
This year, he suffered from early season crashes and he pushed through the Tour as far as he could until a time cut forced him out in stage 11.
He raced only the RideLondon-Surrey Classic afterwards.
Later, he announced he had been re-diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus. It is uncertain when he could return in 2019.
In an Instagram post on Sunday, Cavendish said he received positive news about his illness and was able to return to training on the bike.
Ryder will have to decide how many men he includes in his eight-man roster with Cavendish, if he returns to the Tour de France. With Cavendish, Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel are expected to renew.
His longer aim is Eddy Merckx’s 34 record and the 2020 Tokyo Games to race for the Madison gold medal.
Of note, however, the short one-year deal only sees Cavendish continuing through 2019 with the team.