Mark Cavendish had been linked to Astana-Qazaqstan for weeks, and was even photographed heading to the team camp, before the team formally announced his signing this week. With that, the quest for his record breaking 35th Tour de France stage win is alive once more.
Now that he’s officially a member of Vinokourov’s outfit, that naturally leaves two things to speculate on:
1) Can Cav spit bars?
The cycling world waits with bated breath for the third installment of the Astana rap.
2) What bike will he ride?
If there has ever been a more obsessive, nit picky rider when it comes to bike gear than the 37-year-old (38 when the Tour rolls around), I’ve yet to meet them.
Cav hasn’t been shy about bashing the bikes of team sponsors (with words at least) in the past. He’s had critical words for Meridas and BMCs of teams past — both bikes that seem well received by other riders pro and otherwise, albeit ones who have fewer grand tour stage wins.
And even when he’s on his preferred Specialized, everything must be just so or his temper will boil over — especially in high stress environments like the Tour. Just ask his former Quick-Step mechanics.
Det klikket for Mark Cavendish før dagens etappe i Tour de France… 😳😠 pic.twitter.com/gxBYYn09yW
— TV 2 Sport (@tv2sport) July 16, 2021
With the move to Astana-Qazaqstan, one thing is for sure: Cavendish will ride a Wilier, the team’s bike sponsor for several years now.
Of the pair, the latter seems like the most likely candidate for Cav to use for the majority of stages, owing to its aero bonafides with only a 90-gram weight penalty over the already lightweight (as the name implies) Zero.
Just today the team tweeted out a photo of Cavendish on the Filante at training camp. It doesn’t answer for sure which bike he will ride most often given that he’s likely putting a lot of miles into both machines to find his goldilocks fit. But it’s telling nonetheless.
🇪🇸 PHOTOS: Training Camp
— Astana Qazaqstan Team (@AstanaQazTeam) January 19, 2023
While Cav is picky on his fit, both bikes offer enough sizing options of the Wilier-made one-piece integrated cockpit, over 240 unique handlebar reach and drop possibilities, that he should be able to find something comfortable.
That’s only one of many factors that go into whether a bike clicks with a rider, however. But whether Cav connects with the geometry and stiffness of Wilier’s offerings, he doesn’t have any other options at this point, and he’ll have to figure out a way to make things work if he’s to snag that 35th Tour stage win.
We won’t have to wait long to find out which bike ends up being the go-to option. Cavendish will make his team debut at the Tour of Oman and the UAE Tour next month.