Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Mark Cavendish will be returning to the Deceuninck-Quick-Step “Wolfpack” in 2021.
After a five year spell away from the Belgian squad, the Manx super sprinter returns to the team that he had previously raced with for three seasons. In his previous tenure with Quick-Step, Cavendish amassed scores of race wins, three Tour de France stage victories, and the points jersey at the Giro d’Italia.
“I can’t explain how delighted I am to be joining Deceuninck-Quick-Step,” Cavendish said Saturday. “I have never hidden my affection for my time with the team, and to me this genuinely feels like I am coming home … I can’t wait to be back in the Wolfpack.”
Team manager Patrick Lefevere was equally buoyant at seeing the return of one of the long line of top sprinters that have passed through his team.
“Us and Mark share many beautiful memories and have a history that goes a long way back,” Lefevere said. “During his three-year spell with the team, he didn’t just claim dozens of victories for the team, he showed amazing panache and what an incredibly dedicated team player he is.”
Cavendish rode with the Quick-Step squad from 2013 to 2015 before moving to Team Dimension Data.
In 2020, he linked up with long-time sidekick Rod Ellingworth at Bahrain-McLaren. The Manxman’s contract with the Bahraini outfit came to an end this winter, and questions had bubbled as to whether the 35-year-old was close to calling time on a career that had seen him taking 30 Tour de France stages, the world championships, Milano-Sanremo and so much more.
After several fallow seasons without victory and struggling with illnesses and mental health issues, Cavendish’s return to his old team makes for a career lifeline. The sprint supremo hasn’t raced a grand tour since 2018, with his last victory at a three-week race coming in 2016.
“As well as the incredible group of riders, I can’t wait to start working again with the staff, most of which were here during my first spell and were part of one of the most successful periods of my career, an era that I am immensely proud of,” Cavendish said. “Even with an extremely difficult and disrupted season this year, they have shown how strong and unified they are, and I am hoping to add to even more.”
Having not taken a victory since crossing the line first at the Dubai Tour in February 2018, Cavendish pivoted slightly toward a mentoring role at Bahrain-McLaren. Lefevere hinted Cavendish could play a similar role at Deceuninck-Quick-Step in 2021 as he elbows for space with top sprinter Sam Bennett, who enjoyed a highly-successful 2020 season.
“We are happy to have him return to our family, as he is a leader and brings across a wealth of experience that he can share with our young riders, but at the same time we are confident he still has something to give to the team,” Lefevere said.