Mark Cavendish has spoken publicly for the first time about his desire to leave Team Sky at the end of the season.
The 27-year-old world road race champion insisted he wished to remain on good terms with Dave Brailsford and his WorldTour team, and said he believed an amicable parting was likely.
The Manxman was speaking in Ipswich on the eve of the Tour of Britain, in which he will ride for the final time this season in the rainbow stripes of world road race champion.
Cavendish said: “I want the best for British cycling, it has grown so much and we had this idea that we could have this British superteam that could win stages and dominate.
“Dave [Brailsford] sold me the idea last year but for some reason it hasn’t worked out like that. It’s difficult to do.”
Cavendish’s comments were widely anticipated. Speaking immediately after Bradley Wiggins’ historic win in the Tour de France, Brailsford said Cavendish would be free to leave the team if he desired.
Wiggins, speaking two weeks ago, added that while he would be sorry to see Cavendish go, he would understand the Manxman’s reasons for doing so.
It is perhaps a comment on Cavendish’s expectations of himself and his team that a season with nine victories to date, including three stage wins each at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France is considered unsatisfactory.
Key personnel at Belgian super team, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, have made no secret of their desire to sign Cavendish, but a release fee on Cavendish’s contract, thought to be worth around £2m a year to the Manxman, could prove prohibitive.
Cavendish expressed his desire that it would not be enforced.
“I’ve got a two-year contract with Sky and it will be interesting to see what Dave says. Hopefully he won’t keep me suppressed down. I don’t want to keep Sky suppressed down either. I’ve heard talk of a release fee but I’ve known Dave since I was 14 and I don’t think he will do that. Hopefully we can find an amicable solution,” he said.
The demise of the HTC-Highroad team at the end of last season, one in which Cavendish won the Tour de France green jersey as well as the world road race championship, left Cavendish a free agent.
Team Sky’s management initially expressed a desire to win both the yellow and green jerseys at the Tour de France, but as early as April, Brailsford told RCUK that the team would ‘bias’ its efforts towards stage wins if the GC campaign wavered.
Today, Cavendish said: “It’s like a long distance relationship with a girl. Everything is great but you live apart and it can’t work out. But you want to be friends and you would rather the best thing happens so that everything can remain good and that you can stay close.”