Mark Cavendish is “almost certain” to leave Team Sky at the end of this season, according to cycling journalist and author Richard Moore who has close ties to the British ProTeam.
Moore, author of books including Sky's the Limit: British Cycling's Quest to Conquer the Tour de France, made the prediction in a blog piece for Sky Sports.
Cavendish picked up three stage wins in the Tour de France, but two of those came on the final two road stages of the race, by which time the maillot jaune had been all but secured by Bradley Wiggins after the race headed out of the Pyrenees.
Cavendish’s defence of the green jersey he won last year had long since evaporated, and while he relished the domestique role he played in much of the race in helping a team mate secure the sport’s biggest prize, it’s not one he’s likely to be willing to repeat on a regular basis.
Some believe that the world champion’s move to Team Sky was only ever likely to be a temporary marriage of convenience with his big target this year being the Olympic Road Race.
The fact that three of his four team mates on Saturday also race for Sky plus the overlap between the ProTeam’s set-up and that of British Cycling means it’s been far easier for Cavendish to plan his season around the Games than would have been the case elsewhere.
Moore also points out that Cavendish’s negotiations with Team Sky were conducted ahead of Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins finishing second and third in September’s Vuelta, something that in hindsight changed the game plan even before he joined.
While he would not be confirmed as joining the team until after he had won the rainbow jersey in Copenhagen, as Team Sky’s season built towards the Tour it became clear that its aspirations were very much on the yellow jersey, not the green one Cavendish won last year.
Although we don’t yet know the full parcours of next year’s race, it’s certain that the GC, not the points classification, will be the team’s focus, something that was confirmed by Team Principal Dave Brailsford in the wake of Wiggins' victiory at the weekend, hinting he wouldn't stand in his way if he chose to leave.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step tried to secure Cavendish’s signature for this season, and Moore believes the Belgian team is his likely destination. Such a move would reunite him with several former colleagues at HTC-Highroad, as well as his former Directeur Sportif there, Brian Holm.
Moore also believes that Geraint Thomas will be given support to target the Tour of Flanders next year - again, the Welshman's current preparations to help defend Great Britain's Olympic team pursuit title benefit from his being at Team Sky rather than elsewhere - while Wiggins himself is planning on racing Paris-Roubaix with the aim of winning it before he retires.
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.