‘Should I take the risk?’: Patrick Lefevere favours Fabio Jakobsen over Mark Cavendish for Tour de France 2022, as contract negotiations continue

Cavendish has said he wants to stay with Deceuninck - Quick-Step, but no agreement has yet been reached

Mark Cavendish at the 2021 Tour of Britain
Mark Cavendish at the 2021 Tour of Britain
(Image credit: Getty)

Patrick Lefevere has made it clear he will favour Fabio Jakobsen over Mark Cavendish at next year’s Tour de France, as contract negotiations with the British sprinter continue. 

Cavendish, the most successful sprinter in Tour de France history, has been riding for Deceuninck - Quick-Step on a one year deal, but after a remarkable comeback in 2021 he is keen to extend his stay.

While general manager of the team Patrick Lefevere seems keen to keep Cavendish for another year, he has also raised concerns about the budget, saying Cavendish may think “it’s time to cash in again.” 

In an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, Lefevere said: "I respect Mark Cavendish. We saved his skin. We gave him all the tools. He took the challenge and he did it. And now it begins. Now he thinks it is time to cash in again." 

After years beset by injury, illness, and mental health struggles, Cavendish feared premature end of his career last season, as he struggled to find a new contract for 2021. 

The 36-year-old then signed with Deceuninck - Quick-Step on a one year deal, rejoining the team where he had previously enjoyed some of his most successful years.

It proved an inspired move for both rider and the team, as Cavendish went on to win four stages and the green jersey in the Tour de France, fuelling Cavendish to continue his career. 

But Lefevere has asked “will he do the same again?” adding “that seems unlikely to me.” 

The former pro turned manager has admitted that he will favour Fabio Jakobsen in next year’s Tour de France, as the young Dutchman has made his own improbable comeback after a life-threatening crash in 2020. 

Jakobsen is also expected to be Deceuninck’s main sprinter in the long term.

Lefevere said: “Now I feel that [Cavendish] wants to go to the Tour again next year. But I will not go to the Tour with two sprinters next year. Next year Fabio Jakobsen will be our man for the Tour.”

With his four wins in this year’s Tour, Mark Cavendish moved to 34 career victories in the race, putting him equal with cycling legend Eddy Merckx. 

Lefevere added: “Imagine if he can win one more in the Tour, then Cavendish will go down in history. But should I take the risk of sacrificing someone who might be faster than Mark? For a record which is essentially of no use to us as a team. And then, if he breaks the record, he might ask me for a bonus too."

>>> Sam Bennett makes return to Deceuninck - Quick-Step squad in Belgian one-day race

The Belgian said he has made an offer to Cavendish for a one year contract, based mainly on race result bonuses.  

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.