MARK Cavendish has signed a three-year deal with Belgium’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
The much-anticipated move from Team Sky was finally confirmed on Friday when Mark clearly expressed mixed emotions at leaving the UK-based team he joined at the end of 2011.
‘After a year of being part of the successes at Team Sky I’ve decided to leave and join Omega Pharma–Quick-Step to pursue different goals,’ said the 27-year-old Manxman. ‘It’s been an incredibly fun year riding with friends I’ve grown up with, but I’m super-excited about riding with old friends and team-mates in one of the most successful and established teams in cycling.
‘I believe in the team’s project and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.’
Team owner, Zdenek Bakala said: ‘Mark is one of the most outstanding riders in cycling, a true star recognised internationally for his unique style and irrefutable athletic skills.
‘His extraordinary sprint have become a cycling ‘must-see’ that can fire up crowds the world over. In addition to raising the technical bar for the team, his arrival will broaden our international profile and team image. Mark is an important player in the gradual growing process in which the team has invested.’
Team manager, Patrick Lefevere, added: ‘Mark is the best sprinter in the world and one of the all-time best sprinters. With his arrival the team will be even more balanced and it will be enriched with another top rider, who will become the man to count on in the sprint, just as Tony Martin is the point man for the time trial and Tom Boonen the best rider for the Northern classics.’
The protracted negotiations between the two teams and rider meant that Mark was unable to attend Isle of Man Cycling Association’s annual dinner on Saturday evening, as originally hoped.