British sprinter Mark Cavendish has agreed to ride for Astana this season.
Former world champion Cavendish, 37, will be hoping for a record-breaking 35th stage win if he competes at the 2023 Tour de France.
Cavendish, who had been without a team since leaving Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl in the summer, had been tipped to join B&B Hotels.
However, Astana stepped in after the collapse of the French team because of sponsorship issues.
“I am really excited for this adventure,” said Cavendish.
“I’m looking forward to being part of a successful team, whether working with the team for wins, crossing the line first myself, or cheering on my team-mates.
“As always, the objective will be for us to stand on the top podium.”
Cavendish was left out of Quick-Step’s squad for the 2022 Tour, with the Belgian team instead selecting Dutch sprinter Fabio Jakobsen.
It came a year after the Manxman completed a remarkable resurgence, winning four stages at cycling’s most prestigious race to claim the green jersey points classification for the second time and draw level with the great Eddy Merckx on 34 stage victories.
Kazakh team Astana, who are managed by 2012 Olympic road race champion Alexander Vinokourov, are guaranteed a spot in the Tour de France.
“Astana Qazaqstan Team is going to be a great place to be successful, with a strong team led by Alexander, a champion on the bike and a gentleman off the bike,” added Cavendish.
“I’ve enjoyed a long career already, but the joy of riding my bike and the hunger to continue winning are as bright as ever.”
Cavendish won Milano-Torino, the UAE Tour, the Tour of Oman and a stage of the Giro d’Italia, as well as the British national road race title, in 2022.
Vinokourov said he was “happy to welcome” the “best sprinter of all time” to his team.
“Mark still has a big desire to win and we are going to support this feeling with all our forces in all kind of races,” he added.
Cavendish’s arrival at Astana marks the last major move of the cycling transfer window. with the 2023 season having started on Tuesday with the men’s and women’s Tour Down Under.
BBC Sport looks at a selection of some of the other big names who will be wearing new colours this season…
Ineos’ overhaul as Pogacar gets more help
It is all change at Ineos Grenadiers with fellow Briton Adam Yates leaving to provide two-time Tour champion Tadej Pogacar with some valuable support at UAE Team Emirates and the 2019 Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz also departing for EF Education-EasyPost.
Yates was one of three riders given protected status by Ineos at last year’s Tour, while Ecuador’s Carapaz has had three Grand Tour podium finishes during his time with the British team.
Ineos, who will be sporting a new red, blue and orange jersey for 2023 have brought in the likes of Dutch climber Thymen Arensman from DSM and British riders Connor Swift (from Arkea-Samsic) and Leo Hayter.
UAE Team Emirates’ roster for the coming campaign will also include the name of Belgian classics specialist Tim Wellens who has spent the last decade at Lotto-Soudal and Felix Grosschartner, with the Austrian national champion aiming to provide further power in the mountains at Grand Tours.
Wilco Kelderman makes the switch from Bora-Hansgrohe to return to a star-packed Jumbo-Visma line-up which also adds Attila Valter, the experienced Jan Tratnik and Paris-Roubaix champion Dylan van Baarle from Ineos.
Tim Merlier, Jan Hirt and Casper Pedersen all join Quick-Step as part of their overhaul with Belgian sprinter Merlier fulfilling Cavendish’s former role.
Meanwhile, Dylan Teuns has already completed a move from Bahrain Victorious to Israel-Premier Tech and two-time Tour de France stage winner Soren Kragh Anderson arrives at Alpecin-Deceuninck from DSM.
Deignan to return in May
Britain’s Lizzie Deignan is planning to return to racing on the women’s World Tour by May after having her second child.
The Trek-Segafredo rider won the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes in 2021 in dramatic style, but did not compete in 2022 after announcing she was pregnant.
Italian all-rounder Silvia Persico and sprinter Chiara Consonni headline UAE Team ADQ’s recruitment.
British national champion Alice Towers has joined Canyon-SRAM on a three-year deal as fellow Briton Alice Barnes departs to compete for American team Human Powered Health.
SD Worx have snapped up one of the fastest women in the peloton, sprinter Lorena Wiebes, from DSM, and South African climber Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has put off her retirement plans to ride for the Belgian AG Insurance-NXTG team.
Amanda Spratt is an exciting addition to Trek-Segafredo’s squad along with fellow Australian climber Brodie Chapman.
And Annemiek van Vleuten’s Movistar team have signed German national champion Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij from DSM, while UAE Team ADQ star Mavi Garcia is heading to Liv Racing-Xstra.