Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Mark Cavendish’s future uncertain after team boss tells riders to look elsewhere

Sources say the Manx sprinter “100 percent” won’t ride for Jérôme Pineau’s controversial B&B Hôtels project, which appears to be on the brink of implosion due to lack of funding

The longest-running transfer saga of the winter continues to rumble on, as Mark Cavendish’s rumoured destination for 2023, second-tier French outfit B&B Hôtels-KTM, appears on the verge of implosion after team boss Jérôme Pineau told his riders and staff on Friday that they were free to seek employment elsewhere.

According to Ouest-France, yesterday afternoon former pro Pineau informed the team’s members that they could now sign with other squads for next season, as rumours abound that B&B Hôtels – which only a matter of weeks ago seemed destined for a substantial influx of cash that would facilitate the creation of a new women’s team and the arrival of star names such as Cavendish and Audrey Cordon-Ragot – may not even be able to continue in any form at all come 2023.

Where this leaves Cavendish, one victory shy of surpassing Eddy Merckx as the Tour de France’s most prolific stage winner and seemingly integral to Pineau’s plans to woo major sponsors such as Amazon and Carrefour, is currently unknown.

Mark Cavendish and Eddy Merckx (picture credit A.S.O./Pauline Ballet)

A.S.O./Pauline Ballet

The 37-year-old, controversially left out of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Tour de France squad earlier this year, has been linked with a move to Pineau’s team since September, with initial reports suggesting that the City of Paris, as well as a big-money backer, were interested in the ambitious project, and that a verbal agreement with the Manxman had been reached.

However, after the last-minute cancellation of what was expected to be the revamped team’s big reveal at the end of October – due to the absence of what Pineau said was some of the project’s “main stakeholders” – doubts began to emerge over the squad’s supposedly rosy future.

In October, the team missed the deadline to apply for a ProTeam licence (in effect, freeing their riders to negotiate with other squads), and were forced to seek a special extension from the UCI in order to secure the funds required to continue in the peloton.

> Mark Cavendish ‘confirmed’ as leader of a team which may not exist in two weeks

In the middle of November, Pineau remained optimistic that “a last major sponsor” would come on board by the end of the month, and that he “will believe it until the last minute of the last day”.

The former Quick-Step rider, who founded the B&B Hôtels team in 2018 along with his brother Sébastien, also stressed that former world champion and two-time green jersey winner Cavendish remained part of the project, despite the uncertainty swirling around it.

“If he didn’t believe in this project, he would have already signed elsewhere,” the 42-year-old Frenchman said. “I can’t hide that he is part of this project… He wants to be with us. I want him to be with us, but today I have to say that he is not part of the team.”

However, yesterday’s impromptu conference call suggests that not only has Pineau’s ambition to springboard the team to the sport’s top tier failed to materialise, but that there are serious doubts over whether the manager’s Plan B – to continue with a budget of between five and seven million euros, akin to previous years – can even go ahead.

Pierre Rolland of B&B Hotels descends from Mont Ventoux, 2021 Tour de France (Emma Wilcock/

Emma Wilcock/

Nevertheless, according to Le Télégramme, despite yesterday’s rather late admission to riders and staff about their employment prospects for 2023, Pineau remains desperate to “cling again and again” to the hope that the Breton team can stay afloat, perhaps with increased funds from existing title sponsor B&B Hôtels.

As the future of B&B’s existing cohort, which includes Pierre Rolland, Luza Mozzato, and Franck Bonnamour, as well as rumoured new signings such as sprinter Cees Bol, hangs in the balance, Gazzetta dello Sport journalist and The Cycling Podcast contributor Ciro Scognamiglio tweeted yesterday afternoon that “a very reliable source” informed the Italian sports paper that “100 percent Mark Cavendish won’t ride for B&B Hôtels-KTM” in 2023.

While Cavendish himself has remained tight-lipped on the subject and other teams, such as Movistar, have publicly stated that their line-up for 2023 is complete, a possible late-career homecoming at the Ineos Grenadiers has even been touted online in recent days, though nothing has been officially declared of course.

Mark Cavendish wins stage 21 of the 2012 Tour de France (A.S.O./Bruno Bade)

A.S.O./Bruno Bade

Despite the ‘square peg in a round hole’ feel of Cavendish’s successful if fractious year-long spell at the then-Team Sky in 2012, the move would make a lot of sense: Ineos, though inundated with young exciting talent, currently lack a real GC contender to take on the might of Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates at the Tour – so why not at least throw a couple of eggs in Cavendish’s very high profile basket?

Eleven years on from winning for Sky on the Champs-Élysées in the rainbow bands, surely the stage is set for one of Britain’s greatest ever racers to make history once again for the British team by taking a record-breaking 35th stage win at the Tour. It just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

Add new comment


PhilipH | 1 year ago

Can see why there's lots of speculation around Cavendish, and potentially Ineos. Can't see it though. Ineos have never cared about sprint stages, and without a world-class, dedicated lead-out team, more often than not Cavendish is an 'also-ran'.  Ineos will want better odds than that at the TDF. It could be interesting (but unlikely) to see him paired with Sagan at TotalEnergies?  Failing that, Groupama, Cofidis or AG2R might through him a contract?

Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
1 like

I do wonder if Cav has made his own bed on this one.    Employing a Super Agent and no doubt hefty wage demands would put off most teams. 

Welsh boy replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
1 like

Or are any of the big teams nervous about basing the 3 most important weeks of their season around a 37 year old sprinter who is just as likely to crash out in the first sprint as he is to giving them incalculable amounts of publicity for a single stage win? I love Cav but I can see why any sponsor would be nervous about taking him on even for a low salary and a big win bonus (which is what I would be offering if I was Cav).

Rendel Harris replied to Welsh boy | 1 year ago

I agree, and much as I hope Cav has his last hurrah it must be remembered that teams are limited to 31 riders in the squad; it's not just a question of finding the money and giving up a Tour place for him. With relegation in play teams will need sprinters who can pick up points for them week in week out, not someone who would probably race a limited programme specifically focussed on the Tour (worth noting a stage win is worth just 120 UCI points to a team, whilst the classics and other one-dayers are worth 300-500 points each). The superteams who have so much talent they could probably afford to sacrifice a place for him without risking relegation already have two or three top-class sprinters in place, while the ones who might welcome the publicity are the ones who have to worry most about relegation, it's a bit of a Catch 22. Still, fingers crossed!

Jimmy Ray Will replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago

Sorry, I don't see it that way... 

Why would he race a limited programme? What evidence are you basing this on?

I also struggle with the notion that he is more likely to crash out than any other sprinter / team leader in the tour. 

His age is only relevant if he's showing evidence of slowing down. Results these last two years do not suggest this.

What he represents is one of the greatest sprinters of all time. Boasting a track record in the tour that no other sprinter can match. Outside of illness and accident, his tour consistency is beyond reproach. 

If you want stage wins in the tour, then you'd want Cav... for me over anyone else out there. There are some fab young guns coming through, but for cnsistency and experience, he'd still be my pick.  

Welsh boy | 1 year ago

Crowd funding to pay for a team to give him a place?

Latest Comments