While many successful racers are hesitant to make any substantial changes to a winning formula, Omega Pharma-QuickStep superstar sprinter Mark Cavendish can apparently never go fast enough. Cavendish will again launch himself toward the finish line on a Specialized S-Works Venge aero road bike but on a different size from what he's used in the past.
Cavendish has moved from last year's 52cm frame to a 49cm one – the smallest size that Specialized offers despite standing at a decidedly average 1.75m (5ft 8in). Given the smaller frame's similar reach but lower stack, one might rightfully assume that Cavendish has switched by suggestion of his fitter in order to get himself even lower and more aerodynamic during sprint finishes.
That may very well be the end result but according to Specialized Body Geometry fit manager Sean Madsen, it's all about feel.
"He just made this change on his own," Madsen said. "The reason he gave was that he liked the feeling; no real reasoning behind it."
"The tough issue is that how he sprints is unlike anyone else," he continued. "He twists and torques the bike much like loading a ski or snowboard in a turn and then uses the rebound to accelerate further. You can’t quantify this, nor fit specifically for this, so you have to go on his feedback."
Naturally, the build kit on Cavendish's bike spares little expense and there's a heavy emphasis on stiffness and aerodynamics. Key highlights include a SRAM Red 22 component group, Zipp's ultralight SL Sprint carbon stem and lightweight SL carbon handlebar, a burly Specialized S-Works FACT carbon crankset with a solid outer chainring and QuarQ power meter, and deep-section Zipp 404 Carbon Clinchers used exclusively for training.
Rounding things out are Specialized's revamped S-Works Toupe saddle with carbon fiber rails and Roubaix Pro clincher tires, Look KéO 2 pedals, Tacx Tao bottle cages, and a SRAM QuickView mount to hold the Garmin Edge computer.
While his position certainly looks speedy, only time will tell if the frame size change will pan out – or if it even sticks.
"One thing about Cav is that he likes to periodically change his position around, based entirely on his feeling," Madsen said. "He may change it back in a couple of weeks, when his mood changes!"
Complete bike specifications
• Frame: Specialized S-Works Venge, 49cm
• Fork: Specialized S-Works FACT
• Headset: 1 1/8-to-1 3/8in tapered w/ CeramicSpeed bearings
• Stem: Zipp SL Sprint, 120mm x -12°
• Handlebar: Zipp SL, 42cm (c-c)
• Tape: Specialized S-Wrap Roubaix
• Front brake: SRAM Red 22 DoubleTap
• Rear brake: SRAM Red w/ Zipp Tangente Platinum Pro pads
• Brake levers: SRAM Red w/ Zipp Tangente Platinum Pro pads
• Front derailleur: SRAM Red 22
• Rear derailleur: SRAM Red 22
• Shift levers: SRAM Red 22 DoubleTap
• Cassette: SRAM PG-1170, 11-26T
• Chain: SRAM PC-1170
• Crankset: Specialized S-Works w/ QuarQ power meter, 170mm, 53/39T
• Bottom bracket: Specialized OSBB w/ CeramicSpeed bearings
• Pedals: Look KéO 2
• Wheelset: Zipp 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher
• Front tire: Specialized Roubaix Pro 700x23/25c
• Rear tire: Specialized Roubaix Pro 700x23/25c
• Saddle: Specialized S-Works Toupe, 143mm
• Seatpost: Specialized S-Works Venge
• Bottle cages: Tacx Tao (2), SRAM QuickView computer mount
• Rider's height: 1.75m (5ft 8in)
• Rider's weight: 75kg (165lb)
• Saddle height from BB, c-t: 680mm
• Saddle setback: 40mm
• Seat tube length (c-t): 467mm
• Seat tube length (c-c): 400mm
• Tip of saddle to center of bar: 526mm
• Saddle-to-bar drop: 70mm
• Head tube length: 100mm
• Top tube length: 518mm (effective)