Mark Cavendish signs for Team Sky... and so does Bernie Eisel

Will he/won't he saga finally over… turns out he will after all

by Tony Farrelly   October 11, 2011  

TOB 2011 London 09 Cav sits in the pack © Simon MacMichael.jpg

The worst kept secret in sport is a secret no longer… Mark Cavendish has signed for Team Sky. The Manx Missile announced the news himself via his twitter account with a typically straight to the point… "It's… Team Sky." Not long after news of that was made official, Team Sky confirmed that Bernie Eisel was also joining.

Cavendish's move from the soon to be defunct HTC Highroad had seemed to be a done deal, but the announcement expected after the his success at the World Championships failed to materialise at the same time as rumours of disputes over image rights and the make of bike Cavendish wanted to ride surfaced. Other teams were also linked to the Manx Missile including Quickstep and most recently Garmin Cervelo. Whatever was going on in the background the problems appear to have been resolved.

Cav's tweet was obviously part of a scripted move by Sky because it was followed up moments later by a press relese from his new team with "delighted" reaction from his new team mates, with Bradley Wiggins, saying:

"I think I speak for everyone in the squad when I say that we’re all delighted to have Cav joining us at Team Sky. He is the best sprinter in the world and has an energy and passion for cycling that is infectious.

"Team Sky has enjoyed a fantastic second season and Mark’s signing is another statement of our intent for next year and beyond."

Geraint Thomas, who along with Wiggins was part of the Great Britain squad which helped Cavendish to World Road Race glory last month, said: "Cav joining Team Sky is fantastic news. In many ways it’s like he’s coming home - the team has a number of riders and support staff that he grew up with and it won’t take him any time to settle in.

"I think everyone saw that when we helped him to victory for Great Britain at the Worlds, and we are all looking forward to helping him deliver more wins for Team Sky."

The 'Project Rainbow' that got Cavendish into the world champion's jersey that he wore for the first time at Paris-Tours at the weekend was three years in the planning, and you can bet that plans have been in place for a long time to secure him the gold medal in the Olympic road race in London next summer.

Crucially, the next nine months or so of build up towards that will unfold with Cavendish riding for Team Sky, which could well end up providing the other four riders who support Cavendish in his bid to win what will be the first gold medal of London 2012, and which he has already stated is his big aim for the year, having won the test event on the same course over the summer.

“Mark is the greatest sprinter of his generation and is well on his way to becoming the greatest of all time," said Team Sky Principal, Dave Brailsford. "He is a rider of exceptional talent who has proved his pedigree at the very highest level of our sport. “

“Mark is a born winner and what excites me most is the attitude he brings to all the teams he rides for.  We want to inspire more fans to get into cycling and I can think of no one better to help us do that. We are delighted that the new world champion will be riding for Team Sky next season.”

Team Sky already has a wealth of sprinting talent - CJ Sutton won his first grand tour stage in this year's Vuelta, while the young Italian Davide Apollonio very nearly took a Giro stage off Cavendish this year, and the Manxman's arrival will clearly intensify the competition for sprinting places outside the races he takes part in.

But the two men who performed the sprint duties this year in the Tour de France - ex-HTC Columbia team mate Edvald Boasson, and Yorkshireman Ben Swift - both said they were delighted to welcome Cavendish into the fold.

"I know from my time riding with Mark at Columbia-HTC what a special talent he is and it’s great that we are back on the same team. Mark is a good guy, delivers when it matters and is another weapon in our squad for next year," said Boasson Hagen, winner of two Tour de France stages this year.

“The young sprinters here are always looking to learn and having someone like Cav on the team is going to help us a lot," added Swift.  "We know each other very well already, but seeing how he goes about things on a daily basis will be really good for me personally and he’s always happy to give tips and advice. It’s great to have him on the team.”

The only loose end that needed to be tied up was fate of Cav's trusty HTC wingman Bernie Eisel… who else would wait for him on the hills? Sure enough, it was only a matter of minutes before Team Sky confirmed that the Austrian, too, would be joining.  If only everything in life were as easy to predict...

“I’m really happy," said the 30-year-old Eisel. "I’ve had a great time with HTC-Highroad but at soon as I heard the team was folding I knew I would have to explore other possibilities and Team Sky were right at the top of my list. The biggest thing that attracted me to them was the structure they have in place and everything that happens behind the scenes. Everything is catered for the riders and I think that’s the perfect way to run a professional cycling team. The fact that I wanted to stay with Cav was also a major factor and we’re both happy that we will now have more years ahead of us.”

“My main job will be keeping him protected leading into the sprints, but the spring Classics are also very important to me and I’ll be looking to ride well in them," he added. "If I can secure a ride in the Tour de France that will be great as well. I have ridden the last eight Tours and finished them all, and next year is my 12th season as a professional so I’d like to think I have the experience to be able to contribute to the team.”

“Bernhard is one of the most hard-working and respected riders in the peloton and is exactly the type of guy we have been looking to bring to the team," added Brailsford. "He’s a natural leader with a cool, calm head - in the same mould of Juan Antonio Flecha and Mathew Hayman - and will also be able to take charge of things on the road.

“The younger guys will be able to learn a lot from him and we expect him to adopt a senior role within the squad. He’s the consummate team player but is also capable of winning races himself and his versatility will be a massive boost to the team.”


27 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I don't really think this is a surprise - would like to know if Eisel is going with him though?

posted by pjt201 [101 posts]
11th October 2011 - 16:55


Eisel signed for Sky a few weeks ago Nerd



posted by seanieh66 [196 posts]
11th October 2011 - 16:59


Hurrah! Eisel is done deal too

Shut up legs

slow-cyclo's picture

posted by slow-cyclo [74 posts]
11th October 2011 - 17:02


I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope they won't waste Boasson Hagens talent as a lead out for Cav..

Would be great for Cav, disaster for eddy..

seabass89's picture

posted by seabass89 [235 posts]
11th October 2011 - 17:09


Well done Road CC - not even on Cycling News yet Smile

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [667 posts]
11th October 2011 - 17:11


I guess he's only signed for one year. If longer I think they would have mentioned it.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1425 posts]
11th October 2011 - 17:22


i'm struggling to see how everything is going to fit together, what is the purpose of team sky..can they define in a few sentences the who, what and how?

posted by fred22 [209 posts]
11th October 2011 - 17:22


fred22 wrote:
i'm struggling to see how everything is going to fit together, what is the purpose of team sky..can they define in a few sentences the who, what and how?

I think i can, London 2012. TdF will be two teams, one 3 and one 6, Cav + 2 lead outs and the rest working for the GC guy most likely Froome or Wiggo

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9318 posts]
11th October 2011 - 18:14


It must have took a long time for Cav to negotiate his millions.
I wonder what Brad will do now? In the TdF can they sustain a GC challenger and an out and out sprinter?
What would be your priority
There is Froome and Geraint Thomas to sustain . .


spragger's picture

posted by spragger [26 posts]
11th October 2011 - 18:25


Personally I think it's going to be fascinating to see how it pans out. I'm not sure it's a given that Team Sky will simply be a new version of HTC these past couple of years in terms of chasing breaks down etc - GreenEdge for instance you imagine would chase stuff down for Goss.

Cav himself has said that as his career continues, he wants to get more involved in targeting the Classics more - so this could be start of a new chapter in his career in more ways than one.

It won't be easy, but I reckon they can accommodate Cav and Wiggins in TDF.

Froome I see perhaps targeting Giro or Vuelta, Geraint T won't be in TDF next year due to Olympic track prep (and won't do much on road early season, sounds like he's missing Classics next year to focus on London 2012).

I'll say it now, though - this time next year, I reckon Sky will be top of the WorldTour team rankings (please don't remind me of this post if they aren't...)

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9315 posts]
11th October 2011 - 19:01


i really did not want cav to sign for murdochs boys ,
its looking like cycling is going the way of football teams ,it will be about which team has the most money,sky now will have to go to the tour with a split team ,wiggins and froome plus domestics and cav plus domestics ,,,someone will miss out and it wont be cav theres no way they are going to be able to do that much work for there star riders ,,,,,wiggo will have to fend for himself a bit like cadel had to in the tour only wiggo aint no cadel ,,,,,and what bike is cav going to ride after all, him riding a venge was one of the stumbling blocks of the whole deal ,,,is going to ride a lone venge ,,,,,,,,

posted by rayjay [40 posts]
11th October 2011 - 19:09


From the sponsors perspective it's going to get British people behind the team and that's great, I guess that's what it's all about.

From a riders perspective it does not make complete sense. Cav joining Sky is a compromise to Wiggens and Froom.

CliveDS's picture

posted by CliveDS [44 posts]
11th October 2011 - 19:15


Let's not start picking big holes in something that hasn't even been sorted yet, for the moment we should be very pleased to have the World Champ riding for what is, for us, a British team.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1098 posts]
11th October 2011 - 20:48


Manchester City springs to mind. Added to that, the taint of the Murdoch hegemony is always there. I do wish the best for individuals but feel uncomfortable whenever a global media superpower exerts its financial muscle over the sport I love. I am not naive enough to know that commercial forces haven't always been at work in professional cycling but this is on a new scale. Good luck to Cav et al but my hopes will be for the lesser teams like Euskaltel Euskadi or at least those with a direct involvement in cycling like BMC. Why is Sky 'British'? It's a global corporation.


posted by Chiswick [45 posts]
11th October 2011 - 21:34


Chiswick wrote:
Why is Sky 'British'? It's a global corporation.

BSkyB (trading as Sky) is a British company - it's quoted on the London Stock Exchange, and it operates in UK/ROI only. Not to be confused with News Corp, which owns a 39 per cent stake in it. The rest is public as far as I am aware.

News Corp also owns (separately) 78 per cent of Sky Italia, which explains the slightly different logo Team Sky's jerseys have in for example the Giro Nerd

(Of course BSkyB would be on its way to being wholly-owned had it not been for the phone-hacking scandal).

Taking the cycling sponsorship in isolation from any other issues (inc. the potential GB/Sky conflict of interest), on the whole I think it has been (and still is) positive for cycling in the UK, whether on the competitive side of things, or on grass roots initiatives such as the Sky Rides. I'm not sure how easy that money would be to replace if it disappeared.

BMC's investment is different - it's in a team, rather than the sport as a whole, and it's thanks to an owner with very deep pockets. If you're looking for an analogy with Man City, it's there, rather than Sky, I reckon.

In fact, Cav riding for Sky certainly makes more sense from a sporting aspect due to the GB angle and the fact it's a British team than Gilbert or Hushovd riding for BMC does, if you ask me.

It does however seem to have become quite the destination du jour for former world champions - it does make you wonder whether George Hincapie's sportswear business has got a big roll of rainbow sleeve tape they need to use up by the sell-by date?

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9315 posts]
11th October 2011 - 22:16


Thanks Simon.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1098 posts]
11th October 2011 - 23:05


Simon_MacMichael wrote:
I'll say it now, though - this time next year, I reckon Sky will be top of the WorldTour team rankings (please don't remind me of this post if they aren't...)

You might not have to wait until next year. If Sky can pull in the points at this weekend's Giro di Lombardia they'll be #1

posted by iamelectron [144 posts]
11th October 2011 - 23:49


Well you poms couldnt win the rugby world cup down here in NZ (and you didnt deserve to) but bloody good on you for nailing Cav, now if only Greg Henderson can keep his place in the team and become Cavs leadout man.......well I will die and go to heaven a happy chap.

posted by chromo1990 [47 posts]
12th October 2011 - 1:17


Best sit down, chromo1990 - if Henderson's leading anyone out next year, it will be Andre Greipel, he's signed for Omega Pharma Quick Step Wink

ps Wonder if Dave Brailsford will take kindly at being described as a pom given that his country, Wales, is still in the RWC...? Devil

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9315 posts]
12th October 2011 - 8:21


agree totally eddie b must be developed he has immense talent and this should take him to grand tour wins. Nerd

andrew miners's picture

posted by andrew miners [46 posts]
12th October 2011 - 9:31


I'm not sure I feel like getting behind a 'British Team' until they're riding a British bike. I'm not sure there are any big companies actually MAKING carbon bikes in Britain right now so that's a shame.

Maybe they should get Enigma to make them some titanium frames. It would certainly be interesting to see if something other than swoopy fibres could actually be competitive.

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [237 posts]
12th October 2011 - 10:20


There is no doubting Cav talent as the best sprinter in cycling and him coming to Sky will no doubt be a big deal for British Cycling.

I'm not feeling it though and would have liked to see Cav go to Garmin or QS.
For the reasopn that i dont like all the British riders to be in one basket, so to speak. It's getting like football with few british players outside the Premier League.

Not sure how he will fit into the team either but we'll just have to wait til 2012 to see how Brasilford plays it.

posted by Blackstone [43 posts]
12th October 2011 - 10:30


Blackstone wrote:
For the reasopn that i dont like all the British riders to be in one basket, so to speak. It's getting like football with few british players outside the Premier League.

I think with the Olympic Games being in London next year, that makes it a unique set of circumstances.

For example, the way Geraint Thomas has developed, I'm not sure any other team would let him focus on the team pursuit next year - they'd want him out in Flanders showing the jersey etc.

It's great though that we're now in a situation in which we can debate whether having nearly all the top British riders (and, not just top in terms of the GB, but internationally now) in a British team is a good or bad thing Big Grin

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9315 posts]
12th October 2011 - 11:19


Although I have no idea how it will all pan out for Wiggo in the big GC races next year, having an all British team can only help cycling in the long run. Think what Chris Hoy did a few years back, and then you realise that Sky will be massive. You know that Sky's massve PR machine will milk this for all it's worth, but at the end of the day, we may finally end up with pro tour cyclists who the average member of the public has at least heard of, and may even recognise in the street. That in turn should hopefully get more kids involved, and so it grows.

mr-andrew's picture

posted by mr-andrew [303 posts]
12th October 2011 - 13:34


Ah, yes, the 'phone hacking... Of course, James Murdoch is Chairman of BSkyB and we've seen a lot of him lately. I accept that the money that has gone into the sport from Sky would be hard to replace but that raises the question of whether it was wise to get into bed with the company in the first place. However, since we are where we are, it comes down to whether you want personally to support a team (not an individual) which has that direct association with News Corporation, even if only 39%. I'm afraid, for me, that Murdoch image looms too large.


posted by Chiswick [45 posts]
12th October 2011 - 14:13


I'm not concerned about Sky as a company and who owns what percentage. Scratch any pro team hard enough and the purist will find something to object to on moral grounds. I'm more concerned that the continued growth of cycling as a global sport will start a bidding war for tv rights akin to a mini Formula 1 - and we'll end up having to buy Sky boxes to watch it.

It's not ideal at the moment with too little ITV4 coverage in the evenings and rather too much Dave style day time coverage over on Eurosport. "It's a shame Wiggins hasn't made this breakaway..." Sean " There he is - tree fellas down"

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1163 posts]
12th October 2011 - 16:01


Ah but Daves dad is most definitly not Welsh. He was my Head of Department at Bangor and I seem to remember Yorkshire as a homeland. Shef?
Can't have the foreigners claiming all the glory Wink

posted by mattsccm [305 posts]
13th October 2011 - 12:39