Mark Cavendish to Team Sky or GreenEDGE: Analyzing the Decision
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Mark Cavendish claims to be “the fastest man on two wheels.”
He may also be the luckiest.
Just like in a bunch sprint, the timing of the HTC Highroad news could not be better for Mark Cavendish. He’s coming off a dominant green jersey performance in the Tour de France. He’s widely acknowledged as the fastest sprinter, and he’s one of the most marketable cyclists in the peloton. Cavendish will cash in by signing with a new team starting in 2012.
Rumors about Cavendish’s future consistently center on two teams. Team Sky has been the leading contender, but recent speculation suggests that new Australian team GreenEDGE may look to make a splash by signing the sprinter.
Most of Cavendish’s wins have come with the help of his leadout train, primarily Bernhard Eisel and Mark Renshaw. Cavendish could insist on his new team accepting a “package deal” that includes Renshaw and Eisel. Thus, Cavendish’s decision could affect the fortunes of three riders and at least two teams.
According to a statement released on Cavendish’s web site, “I have now made a decision I am happy with and will be in a position to discuss my intentions once everything has been finalized.”
Now we await the news of his decision.
Which team will sign Mark Cavendish?
While we wait, let’s analyze the factors that could influence the decision. We’ll give special consideration to the two teams considered most likely to sign him.
Factor #1: Country Affiliation
How important is the country in which the team is based?
Team Sky is based in Cavendish’s home country (UK), while GreenEDGE is based in Australia. This could influence Cavendish in either direction. Like many riders, he might lean towards signing with his “home” team, giving Team Sky an edge. However, if Cavendish wants to avoid the national scrutiny that would come with joining his “home” team, GreenEDGE has the advantage.
Factor #2: Established vs. New Team
Does Cavendish want to join an established team, or would he consider joining a start-up team?
With an established team like Team Sky, Cavendish would avoid the first-year hiccups that plague start-ups. As a trade-off, he would need to work within the team’s existing priorities. Team Sky’s priorities include supporting UK native Bradley Wiggins’ efforts to win a Grand Tour.
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With a new team such as GreenEDGE, Cavendish could blaze a new trail and perhaps influence team priorities and composition. In addition, the team could be centered around him; he wouldn’t need to worry about conflicting priorities based on existing team members.
Factor #3: The Renshaw / Eisel Package
How much will the “package deal” play into Cavendish’s decision making, and which team will agree to take the package? GreenEDGE would be more likely to accept the package, for two reasons:
- GreenEDGE does not have leadout men
- Mark Renshaw is Australian, and GreenEDGE likes Australians
If Cavendish plays hardball on a package deal, GreenEDGE has an advantage.
Factor #4: Cavendish as a team player
Cavendish almost always deflects credit for his victories to his teammates. He often speaks of feeling obliged to win to re-pay his teammates for their efforts to get him to the line.
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Given this team focus, would Cavendish prefer to join the known entity in Team Sky, or would he consider joining a team with a to-be-determined set of riders in GreenEDGE?
If Cavendish wants certainty on his teammates before he signs, Team Sky has an advantage.
Factor #5: The Wild Card
Mark Cavendish has always been confident in his abilities, willing to speak his mind, and willing to upset the establishment. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he went in a completely different direction. Could there be a third mystery or surprise team in the mix? It cannot be ruled out.
What Factors Influenced Cavendish?
As we await the news of his decision, the cycling community will continue to speculate on what jersey Mark Cavendish will wear in 2012. In the end, it depends on what Cavendish considered most important in making his decision. Was it one of the five factors above? Something else? Time will tell.
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