Mark Cavendish to Team Dimension Data: Who are his new team?
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 10/10/15 3:26pm
Mark Cavendish will join South Africa's Team Dimension Data next season after three years with Etixx - Quick-Step.
It will be one of the biggest moves in cycling this winter and represents a major new chapter in the Manxman's career.
But who are Team Dimension Data - as MTN-Qhubeka are soon to be known - and what lays in wait for Cavendish? Here, we take a closer look at his new team...
What is Team Dimension Data's background?
The team was formed in 2007 as a third-tier UCI Continental Tour squad, with communications company MTN as their sole title sponsor. The founding goal was to give African riders a team in which they could race in the European professional peloton, while simultaneously raising money for the African bicycle charity Qhubeka, which they later added to the team name.
MTN-Qhubeka were promoted to the second-tier UCI Pro Continental Tour in 2013 and made an instant impact by winning the prestigious one-day classic Milan-San Remo that March.
In 2014, they made their debut in a Grand Tour, at the Vuelta a Espana, and they then made their first appearance at the Tour de France this summer.
So Cavendish won't be in a top-tier team?
No, but MTN-Qhubeka have ambitions to move up to the top-tier UCI WorldTour soon.
Does that mean Cavendish won't race at the Tour de France next year?
No. It is understood that MTN-Qhubeka will be invited to pretty much all of cycling's biggest races next year, so Cavendish should have almost the same pick of races he has enjoyed at Etixx - Quick-Step, including the Tour de France.
Nevertheless, is this a step down for Cavendish?
Strictly speaking, yes, because he is moving down a division. However, MTN-Qhubeka are an up-and-coming team and Cavendish is joining them at a good time. Plus, his arrival should boost their profile and level of performance even further.
Who will his team-mates be and are they any good?
In Etixx - Quick-Step, Cavendish is leaving one of the best teams in the sport, and MTN-Qhubeka would be the first to admit that they are not on the same level.
However, over the past couple of years they have recruited some high-pedigree riders, and in particular several who can help Cavendish win sprints. Among them are Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tyler Farrar, Theo Bos and Kristian Sbaragli. Joining Cavendish in making the move to Team Dimension Data are his former lead-out man at Etixx Quick-Step, Mark Renshaw, and Bernhard Eisel, formerly of Team Sky.
But will Cavendish still be the sprint force he has been at Etixx - Quick-Step?
That remains to be seen. At Etixx - Quick-Step, his lead-out riders were some of the fastest and most powerful riders in the sport and life will inevitably be slightly harder without them.
However, his new team-mates at MTN-Qhubeka are no slouches either and, crucially, many of them have also already been Cavendish's team-mates in the past at HTC-Colombia - including Eisel, Renshaw and Boasson Hagen - so he will be both familiar and comfortable with them.
Once he is delivered to the sprint, it doesn't matter what jersey he is wearing, because he is still one of the fastest finishers in the sport and should rack up plenty of wins.