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2021 Tour de France green jersey winner Mark Cavendish has a one-year contract extension with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, according to team boss Patrick Lefevere.
“Mark’s new contract is ready. It won’t come one day, but I’d like to see it done when he’s fully recovered,” Lefevere said.
It was reported that Cav was in salary negotiations with the team at the end of the summer, however, a crash several weeks ago while racing on the track looked to have derailed contract finalization in recent weeks.
The “Manx Missile” has not yet officially put his signature to paper, however, the team plans a camp in Calpe at the beginning of the second week in December, and Lefevere said “Mark is definitely one of them.”
“Only he is not allowed to fly after the collapsed lung he suffered in the Six Days. We are working on a solution by car or train,” Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad.
Back in green after a decade
Cavendish had a storybook 2021 season, equalling Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins at the Tour de France on his way to again winning the points classification.
After struggling with depression, Epstein-Barr virus, and other setbacks for several years when he was on contract with DimensionData and Bahrain-Merida, Cav finally showed signs of the form that netted him a monument, grand tour stages, and a world championship.
Early in the 2021 season, he won stages 2, 3, 4, and 8 of the Tour of Turkey.
He showed promising signs of returning to top sprinting form on stage 5 of the Tour of Belgium, fending off sprinting all-stars Caleb Ewan, Tim Merlier, Pascal Ackermann, Dylan Groenewegen, and Nacer Bouhanni.
When Sam Bennett was not named to the Deceuninck-Quick-Step Tour de France squad, Cav slotted into the opening and capitalized on the opportunity, returning to his form of nearly a decade ago, when he was all but unbeatable in head-to-head sprinting.
He won stages 4, 6, 10, and 13 at the 2021 Tour de France, on the wheels of expert leadout man Michael Mørkøv.
However, despite these wins, he was the last rider to have his contract renewed with the team.
Deceuninck CEO critical of Patrick Lefevere
Just days after Deceuninck announced it was partnering with Alpecin-Fenix, Deceuninck CEO Francis Van Eeckhout commented that the relationship with the Quick-Step boss was challenging, even in the best of times.
“I am a bit disappointed in Patrick [Lefevere]. He says that we had good years as a sponsor, but he forgets to say that we saved him. I am disappointed that he forgets that so quickly now that he has success with [Remco] Evenepoel, [Julian] Alaphilippe, [Kasper] Asgreen, and co. Well, that’s life,” Van Eeckhout told Het Nieuwsblad.
With the new partnership at Alpecin-Fenix, Deceuninck will be sponsoring a women’s team as well as a men’s team.
“We are charmed by the plan of the [Alepcin-Fenix team owners] Roodhooft brothers. As a modern company, we want to participate in women’s cycling. Personally, I think that’s nicer, more gallant than the men’s race. We discussed that at Quick-Step, but Patrick is Patrick,” said Van Eeckhout.
Patrick Lefevere went on the record earlier in 2021 — when Deceuninck was still a co-title sponsor of his squad — stating that he had no interest in fielding a professional women’s cycling team.
“With all due respect, I am not the OCMW,” Lefevere said, referring to Belgium’s social welfare program. “When do I start a women’s team? When there are enough good riders in Belgium.”
His comments were quickly dismissed by some in the women’s peloton.
“I really just take everything he says with a pinch of salt,” Paris-Roubaix winner Lizzie Deignan said. “So no, I’m not disappointed by his comments. Actually, I’m pleased that he has no interest in women’s cycling because we have no interest in him either.”