Cavendish does not currently have a contract for next season
Mark Cavendish has been accused of trying to “cash in” on his resurgent 2021 season by his Deceuninck-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere.
Cavendish is not contracted with the team for next season and is currently in negotiations over a new deal.
However after a stunning return to form that saw the sprinter take four stages at the 2021 Tour de France to equal Eddy Merckx’s individual stage-winning record, the ever-punchy Lefevere has suggested Cavendish is over-estimating his value.
“I respect Mark Cavendish,” Lefevere wrote in his column in Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.
“We saved his skin. We gave him all the tools. He took the challenge and he did it. And now it begins. Now he thinks it is time to cash in again.”
Cavendish accepted a contract of limited base value to re-sign for Deceuninck-QuickStep for the 2021 season.
His career appeared to be winding to a close after twice battling Epstein-Barr virus and showing limited signs of the sort of explosive power that made him the world’s fastest sprinter.
Yet the 2011 world champion returned to somewhere near his best this season, capitalising after an injury to Sam Bennett created a sprinting vacancy in the Deceuninck-QuickStep team for the Tour and taking four bunch sprint victories.
“Will he do the same again? That seems unlikely to me,” Lefevere said of Cavendish’s successes in France.
“And then the next discussion begins, how much he should earn next year. That’s a very difficult one, even for me.
“I can hardly give someone who wins four stages in the Tour and the green jersey, four stages in the Tour of Turkey and a stage in the Tour of Belgium the same wage as this year.
“Mark Cavendish has sky-high expectations in that regard and I’m very realistic. That’s a difficult marriage.”
Lefevere also suggested that Fabio Jakobsen is due to be his team’s preferred sprinter for the 2022 Tour de France.
The Dutchman has fought back from a horrific crash last year and took three stages at the recent Vuelta a Espana.
Bennett will depart the team to return to Bora-Hansgrohe after the deterioration of his relationship with Lefevere.
The Belgian was widely condemned after comparing Bennett’s return to Bora to a woman returning home after domestic abuse.
Earlier this month, Lefevere accused the Irishman of “playing with my balls in public” after Bennett was named in his country’s team for the European Championships in Trento, Italy.
Bennett had not raced since May citing a knee injury, but is set to return to racing with his trade team at Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen in Belgium on Friday.