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Mark Cavendish will ride on in 2021. The 35-year-old Manxman, who rode for Bahrain-McLaren this year, is headed back to the Deceuninck-Quick-Step organization, where he spent three seasons earlier in his career.
“I can’t explain how delighted I am to be joining Deceuninck – Quick-Step,” Cavendish said in a statement from the team. “I have never hidden my affection for my time with the team and to me this genuinely feels like I am coming home. As well as the incredible group of riders, I can’t wait to start working again with the staff, most of which were here during my first spell and were part of one of the most successful periods of my career, an era that I am immensely proud of.”
Cavendish, whose 30 career Tour de France stage wins are the second most all-time, rode for previous iterations of Deceuninck Quick-Step from 2013 to 2015. He joined what was then the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step squad after first emerging as a star with the various iterations of the HTC-High Road team and then spending a season as Sky.
In his first stint with the squad that has since become the Deceuninck team, Cavendish racked up three Tour de France stage wins in three starts there (his 2014 Tour was cut short by an early crash), and five Giro d’Italia stage wins in one appearance there, among other results across the calendar.
At the end of 2015, he signed with Dimension Data, and he enjoyed a particularly strong Tour campaign in his first season with the team, winning four stages at the 2016 Tour. Stage wins at the Abu Dhabi Tour and the Dubai Tour (now combined as the UAE Tour) have been his lone pro victories since then. He battled health issues, with significant stretches of the past several seasons derailed by mononucleosis, and has struggled to return to form.
Cavendish joined Bahrain-McLaren for this season. He raced several weeklong stage races and a handful of one-day events in 2020, but was not a close contender for any victories. Officially unsigned towards the end of the season, Cavendish suggested in the media that this year mark the end of his racing career.
Instead, he will continue in 2021 in a return to one of the peloton’s most successful teams.
“Us and Mark share many beautiful memories and have a history that goes a long way back,” said Deceuninck-Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere. “During his three-year spell with the team, he didn’t just claim dozens of victories for the team, he showed amazing panache and what an incredibly dedicated team player he is. We are happy to have him return to our family, as he is a leader and brings across a wealth of experience that he can share with our young riders, but at the same time we are confident he still has something to give to the team.”