Since 2008, when Mark Cavendish first burst on the scene at Grand Tour level with Team Columbia, the Manx sprinter has won 53 stages at the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España. In the same time period, Movistar, the grand Spanish team, one of the stalwarts of the professional peloton, has won 46 Grand Tour stages.
The squad has endured a difficult few years, with relegation hanging over them for much of 2022, now they are out the other side, but could still do with some more wins on the board.
To this end, it would appear to make sense that the squad might sign Mark Cavendish, a proven winner, the man with more GT stage wins than Movistar over his career; despite him being 37, it is a team that has nothing against older riders, just look at Alejandro Valverde and Annemiek van Vleuten.
Therefore, the emergence of a story in the Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport which hints at Cavendish heading to Movistar was quickly greeted with a lot of sage nodding and excitement on social media.
The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider is still without a team for 2023, with his two-year stint at Patrick Lefevere's squad coming to an end, and he is still stuck on 34 Tour stage wins, meaning he does not hold the record outright.
A new B&B Hotels project was expected to be the destination for Cavendish, after he did not have his contract renewed by Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. B&B would likely gain a wildcard invite to the Tour, which would help Cavendish on his quest to break the record.
However, on Monday evening, a planned press conference to launch the rebranded team run by Jerome Pineau, set for Wednesday, was postponed at short notice.
On Tuesday morning, the leading French sports newspaper L'Équipe published a report suggesting that none of the potential sponsorship contracts have been signed yet, with the team past the UCI's initial registration deadline. While Pineau has reportedly reassured riders, it still appears up in the air.
Why not Movistar?
There is just one problem with this, and that is that it simply does not add up. The team even quickly denied it, actually taking to social media to quash the rumour, as they have already hit their limit for riders next year.
The Gazzetta piece suggested that Movistar DS Max Sciandri was interested in Cavendish - the pair have a long history which dates back to the sprinter's time at the British Cycling Academy.
Movistar wrote on Twitter: "Can we please, kindly remind everyone that we’re at 30 riders on our men’s team for 2023 (the UCI maximum) and this is just the desire of Max, who has been close friends with Cav for a long time."
They followed this up: "We understand it's a low month when it comes to news in cycling, but come on, some things are too much!"
Officially, Cavendish remains without a team, but the longer this goes on, the more rumours might continue - it is a low month, after all.
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