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Cavendish: I want to leave

8th September 2012, 09:16pm

Mark Cavendish has confirmed his desire to leave Team Sky less than a year after signing for the British squad.

The 23-time Tour de France stage winner and 2011 world champion is seeking an amicable end to his contract, which was agreed last October and has two further years to run, as his personal ambitions and Team Sky's do not match.

The 27-year-old aims to meet Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford for discussions over his future during the Tour of Britain, which begins on Sunday, amid rumours of a link up with Belgian team Omega Pharma-QuickStep.

It is understood the talks will centre around any severance agreement and whether Team Sky will demand compensation for one of the most coveted figures in the sport.

Cavendish has had a successful season, winning 12 times, including three stages at the Tour won overall by Bradley Wiggins, but it was that victory which demonstrated to the Manxman that his relationship with the British squad could not work.

Speaking in Ipswich ahead of the Tour of Britain, Cavendish said: "We had this idea that we could have this British super team that could win stages and dominate.

"Dave sold me the idea last year but for some reason it hasn't worked out like that. It's difficult to do.

"It's like a long-distance relationship with a girl. Everything is great but you live apart and it can't work out.

"But you want to be friends and you would rather the best thing happens so that everything can remain good and that you can stay close.

"I've been very happy at Sky. I don't want to compromise Sky and hopefully Sky won't compromise me."

Cavendish was the undisputed team leader at HTC-Highroad, with whom he won 20 Tour stages in four years, but Team Sky's quest to win the yellow jersey with Wiggins took precedence in 2012.

That led Cavendish to sacrifice his bid to defend the points classification's green jersey he won for the first time in 2011 and instead he performed as a domestique, carrying water bottles for his team-mates.

Cavendish won the 18th and 20th stages of the Tour - triumphing on the Champs-Elysees for a remarkable fourth straight year - but only after Wiggins was in a commanding lead and vowed to support his friend and team-mate.

Team Sky's ambitions now centre around serial Grand Tour success. Chris Froome finished second to Wiggins and is another who could win the maillot jaune, Giro d'Italia or Vuelta a Espana in future.

Cavendish is clear in his wish to add to his tally of Tour stage successes, with Eddy Merckx's record of 34 clearly in his sights.

"I've got an ambition of winning as many stages as I can in the Tour de France and I'd kind of like to be somewhere I can do that,'' he said.

"Dave's stated ambitions are not really involved with sprinters or the green jersey or stage wins so it puts me in a position where I'm kind of lost.

"Instead of kicking and screaming I hope we can find an amicable solution about it and go on and everything be the best for both parties.''

At the Tour, Brailsford said there would be no falling out should Cavendish wish to leave Team Sky.

A link with Omega Pharma-QuickStep would see Cavendish reunited with Brian Holm, who was his sporting director at HTC-Highroad.

The Tour of Britain begins with Sunday's 200-kilometre route from Ipswich to Norfolk Showground and concludes next Sunday in Guildford.


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