In spite of the rumour mill going into overdrive over the last couple of weeks and all sorts of worries that it wouldn't happen due to problems with sponsors and bike suppliers, it's finally official - World Champion Mark Cavendish has joined the British-based Team Sky.
Though his eventual destination seemed virtually a foregone conclusion following the announcement that HTC-Highroad boss Bob Stapleton had been forced to release Cav and his team-mates following difficulties in securing new sponsorship, rumours and theories that he might go elsewhere soon surfaced - in the last week, one of the more convincing ones centred around the merging Omega Pharma-Lotto and Quick-Step's new agreement with Specialized. However, a comment made by Bernhard Eisel (who will also ride with Sky next year) apparently revealed the truth.
Confirmation came late on Tuesday afternoon, with Sky boss Dave Brailsford publishing the following statement on Sky's website:
"Mark is the greatest sprinter of his generation and is well on his way to becoming the greatest of all time. He is a rider of exceptional talent who has proved his pedigree at the very highest level of our sport.Mark himself then provided further confirmation by Tweeting the message seen at the top of this article.
Mark is a born winner and what excites me most is the attitude he brings to all the teams he rides for. We want to inspire more fans to get into cycling and I can think of no one better to help us do that. We are delighted that the new world champion will be riding for Team Sky next season."
What does this mean for the future of British cycling? First and foremost, we now have in Sky what is far and away the strongest British-based ProTeam that has ever put cleat to pedal. Alongside Cav, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are among the most effective General Classification contenders in the world today, while the rest of the team - including the next generation superstars Edvald Boasson Hagen, Ben Swift and Alex Dowsett - are more than capable of racking up win after win and adding points to the grand total.
Will 2012 bring us the first ever Tour de France win by a British team and/or rider? It's looking more possible than ever before.