Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) capped off his Amgen Tour of California in the best way possible, winning the final stage in a convincing sprint and adding to his tally of nine stage victories and two overall points classification jerseys. This time around, though, the ‘Manx Missile’ not only raised his hands in victory while racing for a new team but a new bike as well. CyclingTips US tech editor James Huang visited the team before the start in San Diego for a closer look.
Lower drag begets higher speed
After a long stint with Specialized, Cavendish is now on a Cervélo S5, the latest machine from the company with arguably the richest history in aero road bikes. Cavendish, of course, isn’t interested in the myriad time and wattage savings over longer distances that marketing types like to casually toss about in this segment. Given that aerodynamic resistance increases exponentially with speed, even relatively small reductions in drag theoretically pay substantial dividends in a sprint.
The flattened trailing edge of the deep down tube, for example, is supposedly shaped to guide air around water bottles while the fork crown is neatly blended into the base of the hourglass-profile head tube. Meanwhile, the seat tube and seat cluster are derived from Cervélo’s TT/triathlon-specific P3 with its rear wheel cutout and more vertically oriented aero seatpost. Such a design requires that the rear brake be mounted on a separate bolt-on ‘stub’ (since there’s no clearance for a conventional mounting nut) and even the dropouts are shaped with aerodynamics in mind.
According to team mechanic Klas Johansson, Cavendish raced in California on a prototype Cervélo fork that uses the same shape as the standard S5 but with a different carbon lay-up for added stiffness.
“Everything he can find stiffer, he wants it.”
Shimano and Rotor handle most of the major component duties with a Dura-Ace Di2 electronic transmission and dual-pivot brakes, plus a machined aluminum 3D+ crankset fitted with elliptical Q-Rings on the spare bike pictured here; Cavendish’s primary bike was equipped with Rotor’s latest 2InPower dual-sided power meter.
Interestingly, Cavendish’s ‘sprint’ shifters are in the usual location on the drops but flipped upside-down, suggesting that he flicks his thumbs upward to make a shift. Johansson also went to the extra trouble of securing the Di2 junction box beneath the saddle — a move he says was dictated by wind tunnel testing.
Save for the fi’zi:k Arione saddle and stainless steel Speedplay Zero pedals, Enve fills out most of the remaining build kit with a selection of Smart Enve System carbon aero tubular wheels, the company’s super narrow aero profile bar — which measures just 37cm-wide (center-to-center) at the hoods — and a molded carbon fiber stem. Wrapping things up — literally — are 25mm-wide Continental ProLtd ALX tubulars and Lizard Skins DSP tape.