How on earth did Mark Cavendish get linked to Human Powered Health?
Turns out, it was more than just a wild rumourPhoto by: Sirotti
It seems all but certain that Mark Cavendish will be riding with the Astana team in 2023, but that followed a litany of rumours as to where he may land. The Manx Missile was scrambling for a new team following the last minute collapse of the B&B Hotels squad. With team rosters filling up, the Brit needed to find somewhere to ride next season.
The rumours that he may ride for Israel-Premier Tech, to be kiboshed following the signing of Stevie Williams which completed that team. Cavendish was also linked to Trek-Segafredo briefly, which also would make sense for the sprinter. The most interesting link for Cav was that to the ProTeam Human Powered Health.
HPH is an outfit that has gone from a more North American-based squad to one that spends 90 per cent of its year in Europe. Based in Spain, the squad now rides some of the bigger races in Europe, and has even attracted WorldTour riders for 2023. There’s Gijs Van Hoecke, who moves over from AG2R Citroën Team, as well as Barnabás Peák, who arrives from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.
Why Human Powered Health actually kind of made sense
Many followers of cycling are hoping for Cav to try and beat the record for stage wins at the Tour de France. He’s currently tied with the great Eddy Merckx with 34 wins. In 2022, his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team didn’t pick him for the TdF, going instead with sprinter Fabio Jakobsen. Jakobsen did end up taking a stage, but many fans were left wondering about what could have been for Cav.
Riding for Human Powered Health would have been a surprising move because the ProTeam doesn’t have an automatic invite to the Tour, since they weren’t WorldTour. It could get a wild-card invitation–solely based on Cavendish coming along, but that was far from a sure thing.
So when the Dutch news outlet WielerFlits reported that Cav may be riding with HPH, it was a surprising suggestion. And, as it turns out, he is almost assuredly riding with Astana.
But the Human Powered Health link actually had some teeth to it. Jacob Erker, the chief operating officer of the team, said it was actually something that was on the table. “Indeed there were some talks with Mark and his agent,” Erker, a former pro himself, confirmed. “Our team and partners were prepared for the growth opportunity, however, we are no longer in discussions with them for 2023.”
Henrik Redant, a former WorldTour rider and the new sports director of the team in 2022, may have been thinking that signing one of the fastest sprinters in the peloton would be a great way to continue the growth of the team. But for now, cycling fans will always have to wonder what may have been.