Mark Cavendish is one of my favourite riders. He’s not to everyone’s taste but I’m impressed by the number of wins he’s got. Still just 25, he’s on the verge of overtaking some of the biggest sprinters in the sport.
Cavendish took his first win of 2011 a few days ago in Oman. But if he was smiling in Muscat, French TV commentator Cédric Vasseur has claimed Mark Cavendish isn’t a happy man at HTC-Highroad, citing the lack of a new contract and suggesting Cav feels somewhat unloved.
The sprinter is reputedly paid around a million Euros, although I’ve heard could be substantially less. Now before you say he’s earning plenty, a rider’s career is short-lived and maximising the salary is a legitimate goal. Sometimes chasing every cent or penny can cause trouble but note he’s on less than Damiano Cunego or Carlos Sastre, and even the toxic liability that is Riccardo Ricco was earning substantially more with Vacansoleil.
Cavendish is jointly represented by an agency called Face Partnership and another one called Three60. Face was set up by James Pope and Fran Millar, the sister of British rider David Millar. Early on the company specialised in representing riders and took on Cavendish, amongst others. More recently Face shifted its focus to events management and several riders left the stable. For obvious reasons David Millar remains, as does Cavendish, although these days Face handles the communications side and Three60 has been brought in to handle the commercial activities, including contract negotiations. Face organised the big team launch for Team Sky and Fran Millar later joined Team Sky to run their PR effort with the job title of “Project Manager” but she remains on the board of Face.
I’m told everyone involved is aware of this but it’s a curious situation and there’s a potential conflict of interest to find a rider represented by those with business links to another team. Behaviour is often altered by incentives and plenty is at stake. In theory ensuring Cavendish remains frustrated with High Road, and thus ready to sign for Team Sky, is something the British team could want. This is not to say that anyone is doing this, if anything the delay comes from High Road and Bob Stapleton.
We’ll see where Cavendish goes in 2012 but here’s hoping the choice is made freely. Deal or no deal he’s bound to land many more wins this year.