Mark Cavendish has reportedly signed for MTN-Qhubeka, with the move reuniting him with close friend and former team mate Bernard Eisel, who is also said to be signing for the South African team, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
The 30-year-old, who earlier this week underwent surgery on the shoulder he injured when he crashed at the Tour of Britain a fortnight ago, is out of contract at Etixx-Quick Step at the end of the season.
Previously linked with teams including Trek Factory Racing, more recently MTN-Qhubeka have emerged as the front-runner to sign him.
However the need to find a new sponsor to replace telecommunications provider MTN is likely to have held up negotiations with former world champion Cavendish and his agents.
The team is known to have been talking to Dimension Data during the Tour de France, but has this week been linked with Etihad Airways.
That could be significant in terms of Cavendish joining the team – last week, he helped launch the Abu Dhabi Tour, of which he is an ambassador, and where the airline sponsors one of the jerseys.
Cavendish and Eisel last rode together for Team Sky in 2012, having joined it at the end of the previous season when their former team HTC-Highroad was wound up.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.