Mark Cavendish will make his Omega Pharma-Quick Step debut in Argentina in the Tour de San Luis later this month, and the former world champion certainly seems to have settled into life with his new team following his switch from Sky, including taking part in a boot camp-style bonding session at an army base in Slovakia at the end of November.
The Manxman was out on the bike in his new team’s jersey in Tuscany on New Year’s Day, and in an article on the Omega Pharma-Quick Step website, said: "It was a nice ride, and I was enthusiastic about officially wearing my new kit.
“The heritage of this team is incredible; it's been around since 2003. I'm proud to wear this jersey that Tom [Boonen] and the other guys on the team have made unique in the group. Now I, too, want to contribute and feel like this jersey I'm wearing is even more my own."
Giving his initial impressions of his new team, Cavendish said: “I have to say that the first approach with the team at the Team Building in Slovakia and at Mallorca during the training camp was great!
“When you come to a new group, you never know how it’s going to go or how to behave. Instead, with this group there was immediate synchrony. Everyone here, staff and athletes, really loves cycling and is psyched to be a part of this group that has such a great history. For me, it’s important to be a part of this and to feel the faith around me.”
Besides the move resulting in Cavendish being reunited with former HTC Highroad team mates such as Tony Martin, Bert Grabsch and Peter and Martin Velits, plus management Rolf Aldag and Brian Holm, he’ll also be back riding Specialized bikes.
In a video message to the US brand he joked: “I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is you’re going to have to put up with me again! [The good news is] I’m going to be working with you all. I’m so excited about it!”
Prior to the Tour de San Luis, which runs from 20 to 27 January, Cavendish will hook up with his team mates in Spain for a training camp from 6 to 13 January, followed two days later by the official team presentation, which takes place at the Vlaams Wielercentrum Eddy Merckx in Ghent.
“I will probably anticipate my arrival in Spain by a few days, so I can get right down to hard work,” revealed Cavendish. “It's going to be an important training camp, during which we're going to be doing a lot of work to prepare for the start of the season.”
“2013 already looks like is going to be full of events,” he added. “I want to do well and give back to this fantastic group that has placed so much faith in me.”
Last year, Omega Pharma-Quick Step had a successful race Tour de San Luis, with Levi Leipheimer – currently serving a six-month suspension as a result of his admission to doping as part of the Lance Armstrong case – winning the Stage 4 individual time trial and the overall, while Tom Boonen won the seventh and final stage.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step has also released a short video, which shows Cavendish talking about his new team and also features footage from that team camp in Slovakia.
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.