Mark Cavendish has praised the role his Isle of Man team mates played during the Commonwealth Games road race yesterday, but expressed disappointment that in a hard-fought race in which he was closely marked throughout he was able to finish no better than seventh behind the gold medal winner, Australia’s Allan Davies.
The Manx Missile’s comments come as media speculation back home mounts regarding a potential move to Team Sky when his current contract with HTC-Columbia expires at the end of the 2011 season.
“I went so deep and gave everything I could and although I let them down with the result I couldn’t have done anymore,” Cavendish stated afterwards, adding “the Isle of Man mixed it with the big boys.”
“I had five amateurs with me and they rode like my professional team,” he continued. “I was so proud of those guys, they did everything for me and we got beaten by stronger nations.”
Cavendish also praised Scotland’s David Millar, who had helped him try to chase down breaks in the closing stages of yesterday’s race and attacked himself once the Manx rider had dropped off the leading group, ending up with the bronze medal.
“David was incredibly strong, I’m just sorry that I didn’t have the legs to stay with him,” said the HTC-Columbia rider. Millar will now seek to claim gold in Wednesday’s individual time trial, his main aim for Delhi.
Ahead of the road race, Cavendish had been critical of fellow countrymen Peter and Tim Kennaugh for missing the games due to health and security concerns, although press reports over the weekend suggested that the sprinter could end up joining Peter at Team Sky.
The Mirror is among the newspapers to have reported the cyclist’s comments that he feels “abused” by his treatment by his HTC-Columbia team.
"I'm not sure any more if my team manager appreciates me. I've not been offered a new contract yet - I'm don't know why that is,” said the 25-year-old.
"I'm committed to a contract I signed a few years ago. There's been no good will, no bonuses, nothing. I feel kind of abused for what I've achieved."
While Cavendish’s comments have understandably ignited speculation that Team Sky might put together a bid to bring on board the man who has so far won 23 Grand Tour stages as well as the 2009 edition of Milan-Sanremo, the fact remains that the HTC-Columbia team is effectively built around him.
That would be very difficult, something that would be very difficult for any team to replicate, let alone Team Sky, whose stated aim is to help a British rider top the Tour de France’s general classification – and not the points competition, which is Cavendish’s focus – by 2014.
In the light of that, and using an analogy from the world of football transfers, it seems less a “come and get me” plea – although that’s the way it’s been interpreted in some of the mainstream press, who seem to have taken the ‘British rider plus British team equals done deal’ angle – than a shrewd, media-savvy opening gambit in what is likely to be a long drawn out contract renegotiation.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.