(This 24 October story has been refilled to fix typo in headline)
LONDON (Reuters) - British sprint king Mark Cavendish has extended his contract with African-based cycling outfit Team Dimension Data in a deal that will see his influence felt not just in the saddle.
The 33-year-old, known as the Manx Missile for his 30 stage wins on the Tour de France, will continue as a rider but will also become part of the team’s newly formed Supervisory Board.
“After spending my last three years with Dimension Data I’m delighted to extend my contract with the team that I love and people that I hold dearest to me in the sport,” former world champion Cavendish said in a statement.
“It’s also an honour to be part of a Supervisory Board that will work together to continue the growth of the team in cycling.”
After an injury-and-illness-plagued couple of years Cavendish still believes he can return to the top of the podium in 2019 and threaten the record 34 Tour de France stage wins of Belgian great Eddie Merckx.
“It’s no secret that both 2017 and 2018 have been very difficult years for me physically due to injury and illness,” he said. “The Tour de France record, it’s no secret that it’s the one goal that I have left in cycling. After winning 30 stages in my career another four doesn’t seem that much.”
Team Dimension Data, established by South African Douglas Ryder, raises money through its racing to fund the Qhubeka charity which provides bicycles for people in Africa.
“As a team we believe in dreams and doing significant things both on and off the bike and so we are extremely excited as to what 2019 and beyond will bring in terms of realising our full potential,” Ryder said.
“Mark has a huge amount of experience which we will look forward to harnessing in all spheres as we continue to move forwards in the sport.”
Cavendish said the team’s ethos was key to his wanting to stay on, despite his recent troubles.
“The main reason that I joined Team Dimension Data in the first place is the Qhubeka charity and that’s something that grows within my heart every day.
“To be able to put underprivileged kids in Africa on bicycles is something that sounds incredible but it’s when you really see it, it really grows on you.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Lovell