Don’t look now, but Mark Cavendish just won a bike race.
The move from SKY to OPQS was like moving home for Mark Cavendish, and he took no time getting back to winning ways. After 2011 saw the end of HTC, the Manx Missile shipped home to slip into the British set up under the stewardship of Bradley Wiggins. From the gun, Cav showed he was capable of winning without a full-on leadout. But it was the short effort at the Tour that finally broke the camel’s back, and it wasn’t much into August that SKY and Cav both admitted a parting of ways was inevitable.
HTC broke to pieces, but a good number of them landed in the OmegaPharma camp. Including directors, staff and riders, it was sort of a Belgian version of the quad, and a perhaps even a stronger version once allied with QuickStep.
Alongside Tom Boonen, OPQS now has one of the deepest rosters of race winners on the ProTour. Cav will divide the squad in good taste, with Boonen taking the Classics and the Brit taking a team of sprinters to France in July. He may start all three Grand Tours, though France is, as always, the major goal.
His win at the Tour de San Luis was textbook HTC, with the team taking responsibility the moment the 7 man break went off the front. Even a crash in the final 500m couldn’t derail the leadout train that looked better drilled than some early SKY efforts last season. While SKY did eventually make some progress, in no small part due to the likes of Mick Rogers, Edvald Boasson-Hagan, and Brad Wiggins.
The season is young, but Cavendish is already scary.