It appears that Mark Cavendish is on the brink of signing with a new team for the 2023 cycling season.
The 34-time Tour de France stage winner is currently without a contract for the forthcoming campaign after a deal to join the B&B Hotels - KTM squad fell through in recent weeks because of a lack of sponsorship.
That collapse left the Manx Missile facing an uncertain future as he and several other riders scrambled to find a new team only weeks before pre-season training for 2023 was scheduled to start.
Now though, it looks like the reigning British National Road Race Champion is on the verge of signing for the Astana Qazaqstan team.
Speculation has been rife over the past week or so that Cav had agreed a deal with a new team, particularly after fellow Manxman and friend Peter Kennaugh said that he had ‘definitely signed a contract’ for the 2023 season.
That team looks increasingly likely to be Astana after Cavendish and Cees Bol - another rider whose move to B&B Hotels fell through and who shares an agent with the Manxman - were apparently spotted on training rides in southeast Spain, where the team holds one of its pre-season camps.
According to Cycling News: ‘Cavendish and Bol are both in Altea, in southeast Spain, with eye-witness reports linking both riders to the Astana camp. We understand that everything is in place for the riders to put pen to paper and join the team on their pre-season preparations.
‘Cavendish was also apparently spotted out riding on what appeared to be a Wilier bike used by the Astana team.
‘Footage shot from the on-bike camera of a passing rider appeared to show the 34-time Tour de France stage winner in his British champion’s edition QuickStep-AlphaVinyl kit, aboard the Wilier bike in Astana colours.’
Astana Qazaqstan is run by former Olympic champion Alexandre Vinokourov who won gold at the 2012 London Games and who also competed in the Manx International during the 1990s.