What the pros ride: Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish is back! To be honest, he never really left but for 2021 the Manxman is back on Specialized bikes and back at the front of the sprint pack. After a few years in the wilderness with what seemed like one case of bad luck after another, Cavendish returned to Deceuninck-QuickStep for this season. The team has been a happy environment for the sprinter in the past and so it has proved again with his return to the Tour de France.
The 36-year-old has been at the forefront of sprinting for 14 years and in that time has amassed an incredible palmarès. With no less than 50 Grand Tour stage wins (at the time of writing), points jerseys in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta, a rainbow jersey of road world champion, a Milan-Sanremo victory and countless other records, he is undoubtedly the greatest sprinter of all time.
At the ongoing 2021 Tour de France, he sprinted to an emotional stage 4 victory in Fougères, ending a five-year drought at his favourite race, claiming the green jersey in the process. That was quickly followed up by glory on stage 6, bringing his stage win tally to 32 at La Grand Boucle, two stages closer to matching Eddy Merckx’s record of 34. These two victories together have been a kind of supercut of his 30 previous wins, taking elements from years gone by and reminding the world of his ability. But one thing was different, his bike.
The fastest bike at the Tour de France
What does the world’s fastest sprinter need? The world’s fastest bike of course. Having previously raced and found success on the Venge, Cavendish’s return to Deceuninck-QuickStep means that he can benefit from the innovative new S-Works Tarmac SL7. Combining aerodynamics and weight saving characteristics, there is no better bike to make the most out of Cavendish’s prodigious talents than this one.
The black S-Works Tarmac SL7 Dura-Ace Di2 that Cavendish rides has been tailor made to get him to the finish line in first place. To complement the aerodynamic profile of the bike, Deceuninck-QuickStep ride with Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Cavendish has 170mm cranks with an in-built left and right power meter for that crucial ride data. A unique detail that your average rider won’t have are Cav’s Di2 sprint shifters. Even more unique is just where he has chosen to place these mini shifting buttons. Whereas most riders will put them on the inside of their handlebars - i.e. roughly where your thumbs sit when you’re in the drops - the Manx Missile has them on the outer side of the drops behind the levers. This location clearly suits him as he is able to change up through the gears at speed with minimal hassle.
Deceuninck-QuickStep's mechanics finish off their formidable race machines by wrapping the S-Works Aerofly handlebars in premium Supacaz bar tape. Now Cavendish is in the points jersey, this tape has some green flecks added to the ends. Naturally, the frame itself carries the team's wolf emblem, forever reminding the riders that they’re part of the ‘Wolfpack’.
What goes into making the Tarmac SL7 so quick? A major contributor is the bike’s wheelset. The Roval Rapide CLX wheels that Cavendish races on are super fast. The carbon clincher-ready wheels promise maximum performance and handling at speed, in the mountains, on descents and in the wind. Then comes our Turbo Cotton clincher tyres. They are made from our GRIPTON compound which works in unison with a 320 TPI cotton casing to create a tyre that outperforms its competition at speed.
Ares road shoes
Cavendish rides in black and white S-Works Ares Road Shoes. Our most efficient power-based shoe ever combines Body Geometry technologies with our athletes’ insight to create the perfect racing shoe. How are they so fast, though? Thanks to the ultra-stiff FACT Powerline carbon sole, foot roll is eliminated and pressure on the tendons is reduced. This means that every watt is transferred into the pedals for maximum power output. The Ares is 1% quicker than any other shoe we have created. In a sprint, that’s the difference between Cavendish getting his arms in the air and banging his bars in disappointment.
Evading the pack
Like so many of our Specialized athletes, Cavendish tops off his race day look with an S-Works Evade W Angi helmet. A classy lid for a classy rider, the Evade’s lightweight but aerodynamic construction makes it the ideal helmet for the world’s fastest sprinter.
Like Anna van der Breggen, Cavendish rides atop an S-Works Power with Mirror saddle. As it’s 3D printed from a liquid polymer, we were able to create a saddle with a variable density of padding throughout that perfectly matches the rider. This means that there are firmer areas where additional support is required and softer areas where comfort is important. The result is a performance saddle that allows Cavendish to focus on the job at hand and not on any would-be pain.
To find out more about the bikes and equipment mentioned in the above article, come down to one of our stores.
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