• Mark Cavendish will move from Etixx-QuickStep to Team Dimension Data next season. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The worst-kept secret in cycling has been confirmed: Mark Cavendish will join Team Dimension Data (the new name for MTN-Qhubeka) in 2016 along with leadout man Mark Renshaw and former lieutenant Bernie Eisel.
Cycling Central

30 Sep 2015 - 8:09 AM 

The move, which has been rumoured for several months, represents something of a fresh start for Cavendish, who has endured a difficult couple of years by his standards. Wins have been somewhat sparse at current team Etixx-QuickStep over the last couple of years, especially at the Tour de France. Cavendish crashed out of the 2014 race on the first stage and only scored one stage victory this year.

"I’m super excited about becoming a part of the team for 2016," said Cavendish.

"It is a team that I have watched closely as it has grown, especially over this season and been really impressed with the spirit, strength and dynamics of the group," he added, also citing the team's #bicycleschangelives charitable initiative as a big invcentive to join the team.

"I’m really looking forward to having a successful year on the road alongside the other guys and helping directly to get more bikes in the hands of people who need them."

Team boss Doug Ryder added that Cavendish joing was a "huge step forward" for the team.

"To also integrate Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel is a game changer in terms of performance and experience, which, added to the incredible talent we already have in the team opens up many possibilities for us."

Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch

The transfer will continue the ongoing reunion of Cavendish's winning HTC-Highroad leadout train. As well as Renshaw and Eisel, former teammates Gerald Ciolek, Matt Goss and Edvald Boassen-Hagen are already at MTN-Qhubeka.

The added firepower of Steve Cummings, Tyler Farrar and Theo Bos also bode well for Cavendish's leadout train, although Irish racing legend and Eurosport commentator Sean Kelly thinks that the African team may struggle in terms of sheer power at race finales.

“They [Etixx – Quick-Step] would have a better team for him in his leadout sprints," he told CyclingTips. "That would be certain, as they have some powerful and real serious guys there for the final. In the final ten, 15 kilometres they can do that. Where he is going now he will have leadout men, but he is not going to have as many of them.”

Team manager Brian Smith told Cyclingnews that he was hoping to give Cavendish more freedom to race at Team Dimension Data anyway

“We saw what he can do on even tough courses like this year’s British national championships. He didn’t win but was raced really hard without thinking about a possible sprint finish," said Smith.

"He actually loves to get stick and is a naturally astute race. Without taking anything way from his previous teams, I think we’ll see a different Cav with us in 2016."

The real winners?

Arguably, the biggest winners from the move is the team currently known as MTN-Qhubeka and that will be Team Dimension Data next year.

Regardless of whether Cavendish's wins are profilic or sparse, he's one of the biggest names in the sport and guaranteed to bag headlines. His signing means that Team Dimension Data will be able to secure invitations to pretty much any race they want to enter, despite their second-tier ProContinental status. That gives the team more exposure and more sponsorship opportunities. We're already seeing this, with Deloitte coming on board as a sponsor just hours before the confirmation of Cavendish's signing.

That's no bad thing, either: MTB-Qhubeka has been an animating force in the peloton since its elevation to ProContinental status in 2013. The signing of Cavendish and his key lieutenants will no doubt give the team yet more confidence to race hard - which can only benefit the sport in the long run.