Brailsford started this ball rolling with the comment ‘Cav can leave if he wants, … we won’t stop him, etc@ (paraphrased), you can read some more here. Is Brailsford just playing games, or now with Brad, and possibly Froome’s, success in the GC, is the plan back on to become the next big dominant Team to control the Grand Tours (if that plan was ever off).
What does losing Cav give SKY.
More cash to buy new riders, although for any time the rider list is capped so it may allow them to buy expensive super domestiques to control the race in the mountains. Sprints, the Classics and Monuments don’t seem to be on SKY’s radar. This I am sure that for other riders they may get icthy feet and look elsewhere as they pursue their own personal goals for their careers. A statement echoed by Wiggin’s himself when he left HTC to ride for Garmin, ‘I’ve no intention in just being Cav’s leadout man.’
This year they have got a lot of good PR from Cav, a World Champion’s jersey on the team, something they aren’t likely to replicate this year as the course is held on an Amstel Gold style parcour, which the Team haven’t excelled at in the past.
… and Cav staying
You get a rider who is actually a dying breed. He’s one of the few Superstars (and I don’t use this phrase likely) that races from Jan/Feb all the way through to the Worlds. Mark never seems to turn up to a race to make up the numbers, he’s there to give it 100%. In this year when he’s finished races after puking up around the course, had boughts of illness, but has not lost his focus. What will the end of the season bring to a young ambitious man who by his standards has missed his targets. The Tour of Britain is around the corner, and unlike some, I expect him to be competitive all the way round, I suspect he will feel he’s got something to prove post Olympics, which in my books is crazy.
Being totally focused on the Grand Tours leaves the opening part of the season as a huge missed opportunity, not only from a wins point of view, but being competive in races and the column inches that these races bring in Italy, Belgium and France. As sponsors they will be looking for as much exposure as possible, no matter how well known their respective companies are. Unless the cheque book is opened to buy some additional manpower in those races SKY will end up being a US Postal for the MAMIL generation, and I’m not sure that’s really good for the sport or for Team SKY.
… the rumours
From what I hear, it’s a done deal and Mark Cavendish will depart Team SKY after just one season in the British set up. Hotly tipped is that the move will happen and he’s off to Quick Step. It seems a logical move as there is a gap in their Team for such a rider. Having a GC winner has always seemed a long distance fantasy hope as they have tried with many different riders over the last ten years, but to no avail. Bagging four to five stages in a Grand Tour could make a huge diference to a Team as the revenue generated from the media attention will no doubt atract new sponsors to the Team. One thing you can say about Cav is that he is consistant and can give the Team the media attention required not just in the Grand Tours, but adds a foil to races like San Remo if Boonen misses the move. The Specialized connection is not to be underestimated as I am sure they would help front some of his wage bill (around 2 Million Euro’s a year) as I am sure that bagging the Green Jersey next year would unleash huge bragging rights.
The only other Team I could see him fitting in is Garmin Sharp. With the recent money that the SHARP sponsorship has brought in there may be some extra cash there. But as Ryder won the Giro, maybe Garmin’s sights are also on being a dominant GC Team. Farrar seems to be moving into a more Classic’s role as his top end speed can’t cope with the current crop of new sprinters coming through and their top end speed is something to marvel at. Having Cav there could take some pressure off, but hiring the big star has never been Vaughters style, but this could have been easily determined by the amount of funds available left in the kitty.
I am sure that we will see some announcement, probably after the Tour of Britain as they will want to gain as much postive exposure from him if Cav is to leave.
The other rumour surounding SKY is that British clothing brand Rapha will take over the sponsorship duties from Adidas. This will be a bold and interesting move for the young company, and if true I appauld them for the audacious move as the connection is a dream marketing scenario. I’ll be sad to see Adidas go, I’m a lifelong fan of the brand, but maybe they will chase another Team with the buyout money they will recieve from SKY (they have one year left on their contract). It seems that theres never been a dull moment for SKY this year, and the end of season looks to be no different.