Last week it was the announcement that Dimension Data would sponsor the MTN-Qhubeka team in 2016. On Monday, the African squad confirmed that the company Deloitte would come on board as what it termed a gold sponsor.
The two will, according to Sky Sports, give the team a financial level that will see it sign Mark Cavendish and six others on Tuesday.
Cavendish has long been linked to the team, with his agent speaking to the squad on the eve of the Tour in Utrecht and talks continuing since.
He’s been with Etixx – Quick-Step for three years but a slightly quiet Tour – if one stage win can be termed quiet – plus lukewarm noises from that team about his goal of competing on the track in the Rio Olympics have pointed towards an exit.
MTN-Qhubeka has yet to confirm that he will come on board but team management and riders have spoken hypothetically about how he might fit in.
If Sky is correct, the contracts will be inked by lunchtime on Tuesday.
It states that the six people he will take with him to the team include his current leadout rider Mark Renshaw, plus friend and former team-mate Bernhard Eisel. The latter moved with him from HTC Highroad to Sky, but remained there after Cavendish left.
Also said to be moving with Cavendish is his personal soigneur.
The identities of the other three haven’t yet been named. Two of the Etixx – Quick-Step team management, Brian Holm and Rolf Aldag, have worked with Cavendish there and also in HTC Highroad. One or both could, in theory, also move, although neither have said thus far that they will exit the current team.
MTN-Qhubeka is a pro continental team and requires wildcard invites to ride the Grand Tours. It received a first-time invitatation to the Tour de France this year and had a superb race, winning a stage on Mandela Day with Steve Cummings, leading the King of the Mountains classification with Daniel Teklehaimanot and netting fifth in the team competition.
It also picked up a stage win in the Vuelta a España with Kristian Sbaragli.
According to Sky Sports, the Dimension Data and Deloitte backing will see it have a similar budget to that of 2015, namely £7.5 million [10 million euro]. It states a third sponsor could yet come on board.
Team Sky confirmed on Monday that Eisel will leave the team, paving the way for a reunion with Cavendish.