Mark Cavendish’s Team Sky days may be numbered after Dave Brailsford revealed the Manx Missile will be allowed to the leave the British outfit if he desires.
Cavendish joined Team Sky at the start of the season on a three-year deal and won three stages at the Tour de France.
But the world champion described his role at the race, where he played second fiddle to Bradley Wiggins’ historic win, as “difficult”, comparing his position to like “playing Wayne Rooney in defence.”
And, having confirmed the team’s commitment to further general classification glory, Team Sky boss Brailsford said he will not stand in Cavendish’s way if the Manx Missile wants to move elsewhere to fulfil his personal ambitions.
“If he felt, or if it was felt, that he would like a dedicated team around him, then he is quite within his rights to want to do that,” said Brailsford.
“This team will keep its GC ambitions and I am sure that we will sit down and discuss that with Mark and see how he feels about that. He is a prolific British winner and we would love to have a prolific British winner on the team.”
Brailsford is also British Cycling’s performance director and having Cavendish at Team Sky has allowed the two parties to work closely ahead of the Olympic Games, where Cavendish will start Saturday’s road race as favourite.
But that marriage of convenience is set to end, although potential suitors for Cavendish will be limited to teams able to buy the 27-year-old out of his Team Sky contract. Omega Pharma-QuickStep, who initially tried to sign Cavendish last season, have again been linked to the Manxman.
Brailsford added: “We wouldn’t fall out about it. There wouldn’t be an issue about it, but we are very proud to have him on Team Sky. He is a fantastic champion and long may that continue.
“I can’t see an issue at all. There’s no problem and we will take the common-sense approach and sort it out like that.”
Brailsford is set to step back from his role at British Cycling after the Olympic Games in order to dedicate more time to Sky and the 48-year-old has grand plans for the team.
“If you’re going to become the best cycling team the world’s ever seen, you’ve got to win the biggest race in the world time and time again,” he said.
“I am quite driven by that: to see what it takes to be the best professional team this sport has ever seen. The components of that would be success over time.”