Mark Cavendish agrees contract extension with Team Dimension Data
Mark Cavendish has signed a contract extension with Team Dimension Data which will see him become part of the team’s new supervisory board.
The South African-based team had made clear earlier in the year their desire to keep the 30-time Tour de France stage winner, saying before the Tour in July that a deal had been “agreed in principle”, but it proved a long wait for actual confirmation following speculation he would instead join Bahrain-Merida.
“After spending my last three years with Dimension Data I’m delighted to extend my contract, stay with the team that I love and people that I hold dearest to me in the sport,” Cavendish said.
The delay in confirming Cavendish’s contract coincided with another run of bad luck for the Manxman, who has struggled with injury and illness for much of the past two years, being diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus for a second time following a disappointing Tour in July.
The length of the 33-year-old’s new deal was not announced, but it includes a new leadership role through which the team hope to maximise his experience.
Team principal Doug Ryder said: “Mark has made a significant impact in this team since joining us in 2016 – who’ll ever forget his four Tour de France stage wins to go with the yellow jersey as well as the green – and I am thrilled that he has agreed to continue with us and take on additional leadership responsibilities.
" As a team we believe in dreams and doing significant things both on and off the bike; and so we are extremely excited as to what 2019 and beyond will bring in terms of realising our full potential. Mark has a huge amount of experience which we will look forward to harnessing in all spheres as we continue to move forwards in the sport."
Cavendish won four stages of the 2016 Tour, but crashed out on stage four last year and missed the time cut on stage 11 after looking off the pace this year.
Despite those missed opportunities, Cavendish said he remains focused on the goal of matching Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34 Tour de France stage wins, a target he hopes to now meet in Dimension Data colours.
“I firmly believe that I will get it and I believe with the best people around me that I have the best chance of getting it,” he said. “The day that I don’t believe I can challenge to get that record is the day that I probably stop riding my bike.
“It seems that I’ve always made a career out of comebacks and I’m sure that 2019 is going to be no different after the couple of tough years with illness. I know that I’m on the right track to come back and dominate in the sport again.”
Eisel signs on too
Dimension Data have also confirmed that 37-year-old veteran Bernhard Eisel has also signed a new contract with ties him down until the end of 2019.
Eisel required brain surgery after a nasty crash in Tirreno-Adriatico in March.
"I’m looking forward to the new season," he said.
" This year obviously wasn't perfect and I had my ups and a lot of downs with injury but I'm super-happy that I'm back. That's also a key reason in why I've decided to stay on; I had so much freedom from the team who supported me with everything that I needed with my injury. They gave me all the time that I required to come back, there was never a push from them. I basically didn't race for five months this year and the team never complained about that."