Cycling: Mark Cavendish leaves Team Sky
Mark Cavendish, the 23-time stage winner at the Tour de France, has left Team Sky.
The 27-year-old, who was the winner of the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, joins Belgian team Omega Pharma-Quick Step for the 2013 season.
A statement on Team Sky's website read: "Mark Cavendish is to leave Team Sky to join Belgian team Omega Pharma-QuickStep ahead of the 2013 season."
Cavendish made a high profile move to Team Sky following the collapse of HTC-Highroad at the end of the 2011 season. But his one season with the British team was considered a disappointment.
Despite winning three stages during this summer's Tour de France, Team Sky were unable to successfully balance Cavendish's ambitions of retaining the green jersey he won in 2011 with that of Bradley Wiggins' attempt to win the general classification.
Priority was given to Wiggins who would become the first British rider to leave Paris with the yellow jersey.
That left Cavendish's future in doubt and today's announcement was preceded by much speculation that the 2011 Road Race World Champion would move on.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep had been the favourites for Cavendish's signature, especially after a place was made available after Levi Leipheimer was sacked for his role in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
The Belgian squad and their sporting director Brian Holm, who worked with Cavendish at HTC-Highroad, have the desire and capability to make the Briton their Grand Tour leader and prioritise stage success.
With the Tour won, Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford said Cavendish, who is fourth on the Tour's list of all-time stage winners behind leader Eddy Merckx on 34 stage wins, could leave or stay.
The British Cycling performance director said in July: "He is a prolific British winner and on the one hand we would love to have a prolific British winner on the team.
"We will still be a GC (general classification) team and if he felt, or if it was felt, that he would like a dedicated team around him, then he is quite within his rights to want to do that.
"We wouldn't fall out about it, there wouldn't be an issue about it, but we are very proud to have him on Team Sky, he is a fantastic champion and long may that continue."
Cavendish, who was disappointed after missing out with another major objective in 2012, the Olympic Games road race, broke his silence on the matter on the eve of the Tour of Britain.
He said: "I have seen some stuff about a release fee but I don't think Dave would do that. I hope that is just a bit of speculation (about the fee) and everything can work out amicably for everybody."
Cavendish won the final stage of the Tour of Britain to Guildford, his 15th success of the season in what would prove to be his last race in a Team Sky jersey before switching squads for 2013.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal vs Aston Villa preview: I need to prove myself again at Villa, says Scott Sinclair
Transfer news and rumours LIVE: Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea, Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester City, United want Gareth Bale
Chelsea vs Manchester City player ratings: David Silva saves the day but which City star stole the show at Stamford Bridge?
Arsene Wenger photobombs Arsenal photo shoot - manages to look like famous 'Bigfoot' picture
Serena Williams wins Australia Open 2015: American beats Maria Sharapova in straight sets to claim a sixth title in Melbourne
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Hard line on immigration could cost Tories the election
£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...
£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...