You’re probably more interested in racing than rumours but where Mark Cavendish will ride next year is still up in the year and even if speculation isn’t your thing, there are some interesting ideas behind this.
I had thought Cavendish was going to Team Sky, only that US bike manufacturer Specialized were coming with him. But this sponsorship plan looks increasingly unlikely. First Pinarello have a firm three year deal with Team Sky meaning the British team are contracted to ride the Italian frames in 2012. And I believe the same is true of helmet supplier Kask, another frustration for Specialized.
Specialized is very keen to retain Cavendish and is attempting to get him to join the newly merged Omega Pharma – Quickstep squad. It’s here things get mysterious. Specialized had announced a deal to supply Omega Pharma Quick Step for 2012 only they’ve since deleted the press release from the website… but it’s available via Google’s cache. Could this be because they want to re-announce the deal, only with a bigger name and a louder fanfare? Also Quick Step’s boss Patrick Lefevere had said his team was full but this morning brings news of Addy Engels getting dropped by the squad.
All this is speculation and I’m slightly wary of relaying all of this. But we can learn two good lessons from this.
- First is the power of large bike manufacturers in the sport, as we saw Trek pushing for the Radioshack-Leopard merger. Specialized have been similar, for example they help cover much of Alberto Contador’s wages at Saxo Bank. These companies “have to have” the best cyclists in the world on their bikes in order to generate the marketing messages associated with Tour de France glory.
- Second, we can see how rumours spread in a vacuum. Rumours have been circulating for a long time and first surfaced in print mid-June. The longer the story goes on the more I suspect fans will, for want of a better phrase, lose patience. It can be exciting to analyse the compositions of new teams, to look to the future but there comes a point where the longer this goes on, the more the fun goes out of the forward looking analysis. Call it story fatigue. We should note that this is not Cavendish’s doing, he himself does not seem to be stringing out this process.
Talking of the future and fatigue, spare a thought for Tony Martin. The German is an excellent rider in his own right but has seen some opportunities dry up after selfless service to the HTC-Highroad sprint train. A move to Quickstep was supposed to help him blossom, especially in stage races only this morning he might be asking what his role will be for 2012.
The subject of Mark Cavendish’s employment for 2012 has more twists and turns than a Dolomite descent. But there are some certainties. The clock is ticking as transfer season closes on 20 October. Specialized want Cavendish on their bikes for 2012. The irony is that whatever happens, wherever he goes and what bike he rides ultimately doesn’t make a huge difference. Mark Cavendish is surely certain to win many races in 2012.