British road cyclist Mark Cavendish will extend his contact with Quick Step by a further year, team principal Patrick Lefevere said on Thursday. Cavendish broke a lengthy barren patch of illness, injury and poor form by storming back to win four Tour de France stages in 2021, at the age of 36.
“It’s a done deal with Mark, all we need is his signature, and that is coming, he’ll race one more season with us,” said Lefevere, whose team will race under the name of Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl next season.
“Mark wanted to extend his contract and I can’t deny him that,” Lefevere told Sporza television.
As well as pulling level with Eddy Merckx’s 46-year-old all-time record of 34 stage wins on the Tour de France he also won the best sprinter’s green jersey, the feat is all the more remarkable considering Cavendish’s career looked compromised last December. At the time he was teamless, without a Tour de France win in five years, and struggling to put a long bout of the tiring Epstein Barr virus behind him. But Cavendish was welcomed ‘home’ to Deceuninck Quick-Step, who call themselves ‘the Wolfpack’, by Belgian team boss Lefevere, a larger-than-life character that Cavendish has always trusted. Lefevere sent Cavendish to the level two Tour of Turkey in April and when he won four stages there, the foundation stone for a return to the top had been laid.
Cavendish recently fell at a track cycling event, breaking two ribs and puncturing a lung, an accident which delayed protracted contract negotiations. Lefevere said Cavendish was convalescing at home in the UK but was due to join up with the rest of the team in Spain.
“Mark will be there but is not allowed to fly yet due to the injuries, so he’ll travel to Spain by car,” Lefevere said.
RBA/AFP Photo: Bettini