After weeks of speculation and rumours, it's finally official – road race world champion Mark Cavendish will ride for Team Sky in 2012. The signing of the 26-year-old sprinter and his HTC-Highroad team captain Bernhard Eisel was confirmed yesterday.
At the Tour de France in July, Cavendish powered to five stage victories and secured the green jersey as the race's points classification winner. However, following the race it was announced that HTC-Highroad would disband after an unsuccessful sponsor search.
It was widely assumed that Cavendish would go across to the British team, and this was seemingly confirmed by the team's own Bradley Wiggins, who referred to Cavendish as his future teammate in an interview last month.
However, following his win at the World Championships in Copenhagen, rumours began circulating linking the 20-time Tour de France stage winner with the emerging super-team Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere denied the news, saying that he'd been in negotiations with Cavendish but the deal fell through before signing. Sky's manager David Brailsford confirmed a verbal agreement with the rider, but said the situation was "complicated". The signing finally went through, and Cavendish will bring his right-hand man Eisel with him to the British squad.
"Mark is the greatest sprinter of his generation and is well on his way to becoming the greatest of all time," said Brailsford. "He's a rider of exceptional talent who's proved his pedigree at the very highest level of our sport."
Cavendish's fellow Britons, who helped him to his world title, were pleased to see the deal go through at last. "I think I speak for everyone in the squad when I say that we're all delighted to have Cav joining us at Team Sky," said Wiggins. "He's the best sprinter in the world and has an energy and passion for cycling that's infectious. Team Sky have enjoyed a fantastic second season and Mark's signing is another statement of our intent for next year and beyond."
A longer version of this article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.