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There could be a fight for space in Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s stable of sprinters next season.
Writing in his weekly column for Het Nieuwsblad, team boss Patrick Lefevere indicated he is in advanced talks with Mark Cavendish as he looks to extend the Manxman’s stay with Deceuninck-Quick-Step. Lefevere also indicated Saturday that he is considering bringing Elia Viviani back to the squad after the Italian fastman rode with Quick-Step in 2018 and 2019.
Should Lefevere come good in his negotiations with the two, he will have three top-class sprinters under his watch next season.
Cavendish and Viviani would join young Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen at the team set to be known as Quick-Step-Alpha Vinyl next year. Two of Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s current sprinters, Sam Bennett and Alvaro Hodeg, are both set to leave the squad at the end of 2021.
Lefevere indicated negotiations with Cavendish are at the advanced stages as he works to pin down financials with the 36-year-old.
“The premise is simple – we want Mark to stay with the team, and I think he knows himself that the grass isn’t greener anywhere,” Lefevre wrote. “Only he should not overestimate his market value in the euphoria of the Tour. If everyone acts normally, we’ll figure it out.”
Cavendish returned to top form on returning to Deceuninck-Quick-Step this season, scoring four stage wins at the Tour de France and the green jersey.
Cavendish’s personal sponsors are reported to have covered part of his wages for the 2021 race season. Lefevere suggested that negotiations were complicated as wage demands dovetailed with contributions and requests from Cavendish’s individual backers.
“After the Tour, we had dinner in Roeselare, but nobody became much wiser there,” Lefevere wrote. “We talked about business for a while. The sponsors suggested a campaign in which they wanted to play Mark image-wise, but he himself did not think that was in line with his remuneration at the moment.”
Cavendish could be saddling up alongside fellow sprint veteran Viviani at Quick-Step in 2o22. The Italian is out of contract with Cofidis this winter, and Lefevere is hot on the hunt for his signature.
“For the position of third sprinter, I am thinking concretely about Elia Viviani. At least as concrete as my budget for next year allows,” Lefevere wrote.
Vivani enjoyed a prolific spell during his two-year tenure with the team, including a swathe of stage wins at the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España. He has struggled to maintain his prolific win-count since joining Cofidis last winter.
“He has had his best years with our team, but of course his prize is in line with his palmarès,” Lefevere said. “Viviani or a younger and therefore cheaper sprinter – that’s the decision I have to make. I’m not in a rush for now.”
Jakobsen returned to top speed after his terrible crash at the Vuelta this week, and Cavendish tore up the Tour de France earlier in the summer.
Viviani could be Lefevere’s next restoration project.