British cycling legend Mark Cavendish has had his future plans rocked by some blunt Patrick Lefevere comments during the Tour de France, with the 37-year-old set to leave the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team when his contract expires at the end of the year.
Cavendish was overlooked for the Tour despite winning four stages to draw level with Eddy Merckx’s all-time record (34) and the green jersey last year, with Quick-Step instead naming Fabio Jakobsen as their sprinter.
The Manx Missile, who won a stage at the Giro d’Italia and stormed to the British road race title, said he only found out about his non-selection via social media.
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Cavendish has been chasing a new contract for 2023 as he looks to extend his career and return to the Tour, but Lefevere's latest comments have essentially made it clear that it won't be with his team.
"He will not stay, I think not, it is not possible," Lefevere was quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport as saying.
"It hurts my heart, I would like ... but every now and then the time comes to say thank you for everything he has done for the team and I hope vice versa.
"I know that he wants to do two more years in the bunch... but he's not part of our project."
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s treatment of Cavendish in the build-up to the Tour de France was “disgraceful”, claimed Matt Stephens on The Bradley Wiggins Show.
“For him not to come to the Tour was cruel,” said Stephens. “I think the manner in which he found out about his non-selection was, I’ll be honest, disgraceful.
“Any rider who isn’t picked for the Tour should be told on a phone call in my opinion. He’s done so much for that team. This is his second stint at the team.
“He is driven. He’s 37 and looks stronger and leaner than ever. It’s a shame he’s not here, but the dignity with which he’s carried himself after that decision is exemplary and he can hold his head high. There’s going to be a lot more wins to come for Mark."
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The 2012 Tour de France champion Wiggins added: “What he brings to that team just with his presence… there are plenty of teams who would have him at this race and get success.
“None of it makes sense. I think he’s taken it really well. I think he’s shown what a champion he is. I almost feel like he’s got a new lease of life, he’s got a couple more years in him now.”
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