Mark Cavendish may have to buy himself out of Sky contract, according to team source

BMC, Katusha and Omega Pharma-Quick Step head list of suitors - but Cav may have to fork out £1 million to leave

by Simon_MacMichael   September 6, 2012  

Mark Cavendish MSR 2012 (© Simon MacMichael)

World champion Mark Cavendish may have to buy himself out of his contract with Team Sky in order to line up a move elsewhere, reports BBC Sport, citing a source within the British ProTeam.

The 27-year-old looks certain to leave the team following a 2012 season in which he played a largely supporting role at the Tour de France as Sky focused on Bradley Wiggins' ambitions to become the first British rider to win the maillot jaune.

That meant that Cavendish, who in 2011 became the first Briton to win the green jersey when he won the Tour's points classification, was unable to defend that title, won this year by Liquigas-Cannondale's Peter Sagan. Given Team Sky's stated intention to concentrate on the general classification in grand tours it has become increasingly apparent in recent weeks that Cavendish is likely to leave Sky at the end of the season.

BMC Racing, Katusha and Omega Pharma-Quick Step are believed to head the list of teams queueing for Cavendish's signatiure and moreover have the financial means to match his salary which is believed to be in the region of £2 million a year.

However, according to the BBC, his existing team will want compensation of up to £1 million, with a source within Team Sky pointing out: "When a rider is under contract, it is common practice - and the industry norm - to pay a release fee."

The unnamed source added that while that sum would usually be paid by the team the rider is joining, it can also be paid by the rider in question.

Sky itself paid compensation to Slipstream Sports, owner of Garmin-Transitions, when Wiggins joined from the US-based team at the end of the 2009 season.

The BBC adds that Cavendish and Sky have not spoken to each other regarding his situation during the past six weeks.

Cavendish, alongisde Wiggins, will take part in next week's Tour of Britain which starts in Ipswich. A year ago, he won two stages of the race with his former HTC-Higroad team and went on to win the World Championship in Copenhagen a week later to start what have been a memorable 12 months for British cycling.

He subsequently anounced his much anticipated move to Sky, with his major goal this season being the Olympic road race at the end of July, where his Great Britain team mates fought hard to control the race and try and ensure a sprint finish but were unable to prevent a break from getting away on the final lap of the Box Hill circuit.

Earlier in the season, Cavendish had come within a whisker of winning the points classification at the Giro d'Italia which would have made him one of a very select group of riders to have won the points jersey in all three Grand Tours.

Despite the supporting role he played at the Tour de France, he also picked up three stage wins including a fourth consecutive victory on the Champs-Elysees, however with Wiggins winning that race and Chris Froome finishing second, Team Sky's focus is now firmly on winning overall titles at Grand Tours rather than looking to win sprint stages.

For Cavendish, spending a year with Sky in which there was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to race for gold at a home Olympics was probably the right move, with the team's links with British Cycling meaning he was able to focus more on that goal than would perhaps have been the case elsewhere.

As his reign as world champion heads towards its conclusion, however - the course later this month in the Netherlands has a tough finale that does not suit him - most would agree that he will be better off elsewhere.

One thing's for certain, though. Unlike most people looking to terminate a Sky contract early, Cavendish won't be getting a call back from the customer service department offering him a new deal at a reduced monthly cost.

21 user comments

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"That meant that Cavendish, who in 2011 became the first Briton to win a jersey of any description in the race when he won the points classification..."

Robert Millar won King of the Mountains in 1984.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
6th September 2012 - 8:03

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My favourite part of the BBC article was:

BBC wrote:
That said, Cavendish enters the final part of the season with real hopes of success at next week's Tour of Britain and the following week's World Championships in the Netherlands.

Once again, another wonderfully researched cycling article from the countries top news website...

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
6th September 2012 - 8:32

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Oh, I wish someone with a few million a year to spend would go and offer to set up a 2nd UK based protour team focussed around Cav.

£10-15M a year is peanuts compared to Football

posted by gazza_d [178 posts]
6th September 2012 - 8:34

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Total disrespect for the World Championship jersey.

antonio

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posted by antonio [923 posts]
6th September 2012 - 8:46

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Must admit that the British Based Sky Team are falling from favour with many of their supporters; Myself included!

Mr, VIRGIN can afford to create a super cycling team? Or is his railway set costing him too much?

Sky should let Froome go; and keep Cav, for the excitement he creates in the sprint finishes.

posted by Mostyn [400 posts]
6th September 2012 - 8:51

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I'd love to see both Froome and Cav go elsewhere - British riders do not NEED a British team to flourish, it's a sport that doesn't massively benefit from nationalist teams.

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posted by G-bitch [302 posts]
6th September 2012 - 9:17

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Some strange comments already Thinking

Sky is a British based team built around the outstanding British cycling set up, why should the likes of Froome go elsewhere if they can be offered the best here. Britain needs a British team to flourish in the sport or it will go back to what it was prior to Sky and i dont think anyone wants that.

The team will do everything in its power to give Froome a GC opportunity, unfortunately this years Vuelta was a race to far after his exploits earlier in the year but next year is a different matter.

As for Cav he needs a team around him, not be part of a team around someone else. Good luck to him wherever he goes.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2642 posts]
6th September 2012 - 9:47

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This kid will always be a twat with a massive ego ....

posted by Karbon Kev [663 posts]
6th September 2012 - 9:47

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Perhaps Virgin will set up a team and entice him away from Sky with promises of faster braodband and cheaper calls to mobiles?

posted by Some Fella [707 posts]
6th September 2012 - 10:26

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Karbon Kev wrote:
This kid will always be a twat with a massive ego ....

Yawn Know him personally then?

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2890 posts]
6th September 2012 - 11:29

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antonio wrote:
Total disrespect for the World Championship jersey.

From who?

posted by Chuck [351 posts]
6th September 2012 - 11:58

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Quote:
Mr, VIRGIN can afford to create a super cycling team?

Agree in principle this would be an interesting prospect for the virgin group and Uk cycling. Especially when one considers that virgin money are reported to be paying up to £20m to sponsor Newcastle united shirts for this and next season, extending the involvement that Northern Rock (it's progenitor) started.

Whilst Uk football does get a lot of international coverage the level of exposure virgin gains from this is questionable.

A pro level cycling team would offer virgin group potentially more exposure internationally and considerally more within the European markets. Yet whilst a big brand Virgin is not in international terms a big company and its market penetration is not at present global rather it has high profile in select places, what it's intentions within the European market may be the desider.

Virgin also does not have cycling expertise and there is not another Brailford like charactor out there to come up with the plan and do the work for Virgin.

One would therefore think that Sky's dominance of UK cycling and of UK pro tour involvement as unassailable. However, there are chinks in the sky armor yes Cav is one, although he would probably have to stay at sky for the next season whilst a team was built around him by someone working for Virgin. The other and considerably cheaper (possibly less than 1/15th) option and potential way in is women's pro cycling. Sky do not have a women's team and whilst at present the profile of Women's cycling is not as big as male cycling. Women's sport in general is attracting more attention and the one thing Virgin is very very good at is profile in burgeoning markets.

If Branson/virgin group do decide to get involved then there could be interesting time ahead for British cycling, and not just the fun that some trolls might have with the team kit.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
6th September 2012 - 12:31

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In some ways I do think that Cav was "used" when he was enticed to Sky. But no one made him go (though following the Tour he did comment that he didn't know if he had a get out clause in the Sky contract as his "agent" dealt with that) there. And it perhaps does reflect his ego (and not saying others don't have them) that he thought the team would change it's focus to concentrate on his ambitions.

From day 1 Sky/Brailsford stated that the aim was a Tour De France winner within 5 years. Don't forget in cycling that is THE biggest prize of all. I appreciate what Cav has done winning both Britains (Isle of Man's) first green jersey and first "British" World Road champ since Tommy. BUt to me and a LOT of people in cycling, compared to the Yellow jersey of the Tour they are very nice but don't come close.

As for Froome - once again, unless he wantes to why would he want to leave Sky as long as they are prepared to offer him a real chance of GC status. A lot of people either forget or don't believe that the set up at Sky is what has allowed Wiggins to win the Tour and Froome to be where he is. I really don't think any other team, at present could offer these riders that. IMHO.

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posted by bikeandy61 [385 posts]
6th September 2012 - 13:12

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Thanks for the feedback drheaton, and I'm pleased that you think the BBC is the country's top news website. And you're right, what we do is news, and my job is to report it. So when I'm told, on very good authority, that Mark Cavendish is in great form and feeling very optimistic about his chances of success at the Tour of Britain and Worlds my job is to, well, report it. It's called news. Now you, as the reader, are perfectly within your rights to disagree, and you can do so without any editorial interference from me (although you will notice that I didn't think it was that important a line as it is at the bottom of the story). But, just so I'm clear, do you really think Cavendish's high hopes of success at the Tour of Britain are misplaced? And is it really so far-fetched to think that the reigning world champion, with the backing of a great team, isn't going to at least think he has an outside chance of winning a one-day race in the Netherlands?

Matt Slater

posted by Matt Slater [2 posts]
6th September 2012 - 14:41

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To be fair, Cavendish has stated that the world's course doesn't suit his style but that he will ride it out of respect to the rainbow jersey. Although we may have thus far been hoodwinked, it's not Cav's style either, to suddenly go for a race that he had allegedly not been targetting. As with the worlds last year, Mark tends to be completely honest about his goals, then, as per the plan, still beat everyone on the day.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2890 posts]
6th September 2012 - 15:22

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Matt Slater wrote:
Thanks for the feedback drheaton, and I'm pleased that you think the BBC is the country's top news website. And you're right, what we do is news, and my job is to report it. So when I'm told, on very good authority, that Mark Cavendish is in great form and feeling very optimistic about his chances of success at the Tour of Britain and Worlds my job is to, well, report it. It's called news. Now you, as the reader, are perfectly within your rights to disagree, and you can do so without any editorial interference from me (although you will notice that I didn't think it was that important a line as it is at the bottom of the story). But, just so I'm clear, do you really think Cavendish's high hopes of success at the Tour of Britain are misplaced? And is it really so far-fetched to think that the reigning world champion, with the backing of a great team, isn't going to at least think he has an outside chance of winning a one-day race in the Netherlands?

If you looked at the profiles of both races, you will know he has little to no chance of winning either. Saying he has hopes of winning both is not news, it's not even fact.

It makes sense to do your research first.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
6th September 2012 - 16:48

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gazza_d wrote:
Oh, I wish someone with a few million a year to spend would go and offer to set up a 2nd UK based protour team focussed around Cav.

£10-15M a year is peanuts compared to Football


for less than a tenth of that we could have the worlds best womens team.

posted by fred22 [206 posts]
6th September 2012 - 22:17

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But I didn't say he has hopes of winning both. I said he has hopes of success (I actually said something slightly different but the sub-editors combined two sentences to make one).

He's a sprinter, he wins stages, success at the ToB could be winning three or four stages and coming 50th overall. But here's the thing. Because I have done my research over the years, I've built up contacts and trust with people in the sport, which is why they tell me things they might not tell other people. So if I'm told Cavendish has had a look at the profile, factored in the time bonuses, spoken to team-mates, tweaked his preparations and started to think he's got a chance in the GC, that is news. But like I said before, I didn't think it was important as the other stuff so stuck it at the bottom where the subs could chop it if they wanted.

But the reason I've registered on the site to answer your comment and drheaton's is that what underpinned them was this tired old idea that mainstream outlets just don't get cycling and isn't it funny when they try. That's nonsense, and it's nonsense that has held cycling back in the UK, and it's nonsense that needs to stop if cycling is, as I hope will happen, to properly break through to becoming a mainstream sport in terms of media exposure, participation and all-round popularity.

Matt Slater

posted by Matt Slater [2 posts]
7th September 2012 - 10:59

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Erm, hopes of success at the world championships? The only success you can get is 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

He has admitted he has no chance - you haven't done any research into it - Have you even seen the profile?

As for the ToB, he might win a sprint or two but then again he might not as breakaways happen and often stay away in the ToB.

Show me where I said mainstream outlets don't "get" cycling? I will say the BBC don't know as much about it as specialist publications/media outlets.

I'm only replying because I'd like to see greater accuracy from the BBC.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
7th September 2012 - 11:51

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Lushmeister - just a word about the sponsorship deal - Northern Rock are based in newcastle and have been a sponsor for Newcastle United for many years. Virgin, when they bought Northern Rock, carried on with the already in place sponsorship deal.

It was a local sponsor of a local team.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2642 posts]
7th September 2012 - 12:05

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Hi Matt, sounds like you are you trying to put us out of a job?

As a regular reader of the cycling section of the BBC site I totally agree that it's unfair to dismiss the level of knowledge behind the Beeb's cycling coverage or certainly the day-in-day-out coverage of cycling at http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cycling/ which has been on the site for years now (even if it is sometimes a bit hard to find) with the ramped up output for the Olympics which was great except for that one incident, but then parachuting big name sports journos in to something like the Olympic road race was always going to risk a David Bond moment. It is nonsense though to conflate all of the BBC's coverage forever with that.

What I'll be interested to see post Olympics, Paralympics, and Tour of Britain is what the level of cycling coverage in the mainstream media settles down to and then how big it is for next year's Tour/Giro etc. Don't suppose you want to fill us in on the Beeb's plans?

Like you I hope we are going to see more cycling in the mainstream media and more general sports journos getting involved in reporting on cycling and getting more knowledgeable as they do - that's the way it is done in those countries where traditionally cycling is a major sport.

Over here I like the way the Guardian/Observer cover cycling with Richard Williams as their big event/big name generalist doing the Tour/Giro/Olympics in tandem with Foth giving you that extra level of specialist insight.

The more the better I reckon.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4131 posts]
7th September 2012 - 12:50

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