Cav’s contract confusion

Cav feels unloved

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.

Two Faces
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.

12 thoughts on “Cav’s contract confusion”

  1. I have heard less than positive comments from someone at Face about Cav. Conflicts of interest abound in that relationship. Face run some races and manage a load of Skys cycling interests so it is clear where their future lies.

  2. If his contract is up for renewal then he is free to leave BUT HTC provide the opportunity for him to win. Without that dedicated lead out train, can he deliver the wins that a bigger salary will require? SKY might be able to but then they may need to refocus on what they want to achieve.

  3. Anon: interesting. We’ll see. (plus I like the avatar)

    beev: thanks. I like the racing but the background has its interests.

    Mark Rushton: yes and Cav is the first to credit the team, often saying he just finishes the work done by the team. Any move to a new team, and it might not be Sky, would probably see a couple of loyal team mates going too.

  4. I’m sure a motivated Sky train could do just as well as Columbia, especially with the influx of a couple of Cav’s High Road mates jumping ship too. Would stink for the current crop of Sky sprinters though, because Cav “is” the show at the big races.

  5. High Road team in essence, a team built around Cavendish now, and his wages should reflect that.
    They have no GC riders for the grand tours, so the goal is for stages.
    He delivers.
    Yet, if internet comments are to be believed, the team can’t scratch its arse for financial marketing partners – something is amiss, if that is the case.
    If, their are other reasons why Cavendish is disgruntled with his contract value, then you have to question why, ‘Uncle Bob’ has apparently declined to pay what wage would reflect Cavendish’s value to the team….

    You also have to question the intelligence of whoever advised Cavendish to sign an amended contract for an increased value (without adding performance bonuses) which he apparently remains “tied” too…..
    Mark Cavendish may not be everyones cup of tea, but aside from the odd ignorant comment, he remains a consistent winner, when it matters.
    His financial recompense should reflect that, even in this economical climate.

  6. UPDATE at 15.10 CET: I’ve revised the text above, notably the paragraph on Face and Three360. In particular, note Face and Three60 represent Cavendish but Face does the media/image work and Three60 does the contract/business work, a point worth making clear. I am always happy to set the record straight.

    Starr: yes. And it could be one of several teams. It would also mark a change of plan for Sky and their ambitions for a British tour winner but that’s understandable.

  7. Is it possible HTC is interested in moving in a new direction more focused on GC in stage races? Without any real GC contenders the last couple of years (with the exception of last year’s Tour of California), it’s easy to build your grand tour teams around winning sprints and looking for other stage win opportunities, but that could all change with the emergence of Van Garderen and Velits. Now even Tony Martin is looking like less of a pure TT specialist. If they think they have a real shot at winning a grand tour in the next year or two, maybe they don’t want to bring the whole leadout train.

  8. I have often wondered if the reason Stapleton is treating Cav currently has more to do with a resignation on the part of Stapleton that Cav is going to leave anyways. The lure of Team Sky, its relationship with the British public, media and overall market would certainly be alluring if I were Cav.

    If Stapleton feels this is going to be a lost cause, then why bother negotiating or paying Cav one cent more than he is obligated to. Cav will still perform (since he is riding for his next contract), and Stapleton can then focus those extra resources on building the team for the future.

    Who knows – but it does seem odd that Stapleton would not want to lock up the best rider in a generation, especially as they are looking for another sponsor to replace Columbia.

  9. Flashing Pedals: for some reasons your comments go the wrong side of the spam filter. Sorry about this but it means I don’t get them until a bit later. With you on the ideas there.

    Q + ColoradoGoat: the future of HTC-Highroad, both tactically and financially, a subject I hope to return to soon and the post should cover these ideas. But to respond quickly, yes it takes two to tango and if Cav is one signatory to a deal, the other is Highroad/Stapleton. More in due course on this.

  10. Whilst this may not relate precisely to your insight, can I just say:

    I’m tired of the anti-Cavendish comments. He may upset the status quo and certain “authorities” in road racing, but he wears his heart on his sleeve and shows that strong character counts to win (23 Grand Tour stages?). He may have a big mouth (again, so what? It’s good value) but he’s exciting to see, his sprinting technique is superb, plus he’s from the Isle of Man (as are the Bee Gees!!). He’s got class and people should admire him.
    (I’ll be disappointed if The Chav goes to the Dark Side i.e. Team News Corp.)

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