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VN news ticker: Van Avermaet vows to battle on, no contract yet for Cavendish

Here's the news making headlines for Sunday, November 21.

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Greg Van Avermaet: ‘My body is not finished’

Greg Van Avermaet has vowed to battle on.

Van Avermaet turns 37 next season and has to look back more than two years since his last victory. The grizzled classics veteran isn’t done yet however.

“My body is not finished. It cannot disappear completely,” Van Avermaet told Het Nieuwsblad. “You do not go in three months from a rider who does great things in the WorldTour to someone who can no longer keep up.”

Van Avermaet – a former Paris-Roubaix, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Gent-Wevelgem champion – boasts a contract with Ag2r-Citroën through 2023. After four top-10s in major classics this season Van Avermaet believes there’s still time for one more palmarès-topping score.

“I always dream of winning a classic. I will not continue like Alejandro Valverde until 41 years old, but at least two more years with Ag2r-Citroën,” he said. “I first want to return to my old level.”

Van Avermaet is hoping an extended off-season will see him return to the classics for his second season at Ag2r with a fresh wind.

“I needed to do nothing for six weeks,” Van Avermaet said. “In order to completely reset my body and mind, I went for a longer rest period. Remember, last fall’s compressed schedule meant that we only had a short winter. It was time to unplug, both mentally and physically.  I find such a season much more difficult than in previous years.”

Mark Cavendish, Patrick Lefevere still negotiating contract with Quick-Step

Mark Cavendish and Patrick Lefevere are still locked into negotiations to extend the sprinter’s time with Quick-Step.

Talks to renew the Manx sprinter’s contract have been rumbling away for several months now. Team boss Lefevere was not best pleased that his efforts to close the deal while visiting Cavendish at the Ghent Six went unrewarded Saturday.

“It is annoying me that it is taking so long,” Lefevere told Het Laatste Nieuws. “I want to finish this on Saturday and I know he wants it, too. Otherwise, it will be delayed again.”

Reports indicate that Cavendish and Lefevere are struggling to seal the financials of the arrangement. Cavendish is pushing for a higher salary after reportedly riding on a minimum wage this season, while Lefevere is wagering for a bonus-based paypacket.

The notoriously tight-fisted boss is wary of setting a precedent by handing his rider a soaring salary.

“Mark Cavendish think his image is valuable, but I also think of the image of my team,” Lefevere said. “Where will it go if I start doing that? Then next week ‘the next big thing’ will be at my door.”

Cavendish’s ambition to have a role at Quick-Step after he retires has also become a sticking point in negotiations.

“When I ask him what he wants to do, he says he wants to watch me and learn,” Lefevere said. “But do I have to pay someone to learn?”