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Mark Cavendish said he’s not getting the love he thinks he deserves from HTC-Columbia and hinted that his relationship with the team has soured.
The winner of 15 stages in the past three Tours de France dropped a bombshell during a press conference Saturday ahead of the Commonwealth Games, saying that he hasn’t seen appropriate rewards from team brass.
“I’m committed to a contract I signed a few years ago. There’s been no goodwill, no bonuses, nothing,” Cavendish told journalists. “I’m kind of abused for what I’ve achieved but I’ve been contracted to do it, so I have to do it.”
Cavendish said he will fulfill the one year remaining on his three-year deal with High Road. Columbia is leaving the team at the end of its run as a sponsorship this year, leaving HTC as the lone title sponsor until a new co-sponsor can be found in what will be called HTC-High Road next season.
His comments have fueled speculation in the UK that Team Sky might be calling. Cavendish rebuffed the team’s advances last season, but Team Sky has made it no secret they’d love to get Great Britain’s greatest sprinter ever on their payroll.
Cavendish’s outburst came ahead of his start in Sunday’s men’s road race at the Commonwealth Games, where he will line up for the Isle of Man.
Cavendish seemed irked that he had not yet been offered a contract extension with HTC-Columbia and hinted that his relationship with team brass has soured.
“I’ve got great people around me. I’ve got a great family, great friend, great teammates. It’s nice. People around me appreciate it when it’s like that,” he continued. “I’m not sure any more if my team does. Not my team as a whole, but the manager. I’ve not been offered a contract yet, I don’t know why that is. It’s hard, but the positives outweigh the negatives.”
Cavendish said he’ll respect his contract, but he feels under-compensated for the success he’s brought to the team as well as for this anonymity he’s lost as he’s emerged as one of the biggest names in the modern peloton.
“I’m contracted to do it and I’ve been told I’m contracted to do it, so I have to do it,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m never going to stop racing because I love racing and I’m going to race with my teammates because they love to race as well. Fundamentally, I ride my bike because I love to ride my bike. But obviously the pressures that a normal person’s life I lost, you should see the benefits coming with that and I don’t get them at the moment and I’m a little bit disappointed at the moment with that.”
There was no official reaction from HTC-Columbia officials.
Caevndish, never one to hold back his opinions, also criticized his professional peers for avoiding India.
“We’re in India, it’s not a western country. I think it’s quite ignorant to asume we’re going to be in a western-style country,” he said. “I’ve been to India before on holiday. I knew what it was going to be like.”
Despite his rocky season and missing out at a chance for the rainbow jersey in Australia last week, Cavendish said he was satisfied with his 2010 campaign. He did learn one lesson.
“The lesson from this season was don’t get your teeth done. If you do get your teeth done, don’t go out trainnig the day after,” Cavendish said, referring to an early season tooth infection that derailed his spring performances. “I learned that in January when I was lying in my bed for two weeks.”