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by James Huang
May 23, 2016
Photography by James Huang
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.
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.”
Cavendish may not be as dominant as he once was but he’s still one of the fastest sprinters on the planet.
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.
Total weight as pictured is 7.17kg (15.80lb).
Mark Cavendish’s success on the road is completely dependent on top-end speed, so stiffness and slick aerodynamics are top priorities.
Cervélo has a long history with aerodynamic road bikes.
The Smart Enve wheels were among the first to use differential front and rear rim widths in addition to heights.
The close profile on the seat tube is intended to smoothly guide air around the rear rim.
Even the dropouts are aerodynamically sculpted.
Team mechanic Klas Johansson says the Di2 junction box is mounted below the saddle for aerodynamic reasons.
The Smart Enve System handlebar continues the aero theme – and is extremely narrow at the hoods.
Cavendish attaches his Garmin Edge computer to a tidy Enve stem mount.
The Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 levers are mounted relatively high on the bars, which are wrapped with Lizard Skins DSP tape.
Cavendish has his sprint shifters flipped upside-down relative to the norm.
Cavendish is using Rotor’s elliptical Q-Ring chainrings. While there’s no power meter pictured here on his spare bike, his primary bike is equipped with a Rotor 2InPower dual-sided meter.
Cavendish uses Speedplay Zero pedals with stainless steel spindles.
The Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 rear derailleur is fitted with speedy CeramicSpeed pulleys.
Every little bit counts.
There’s likely little real world benefit to the CeramicSpeed headset but it is a convenient place to display another logo.
A pair of Tacx Deva cages grab tightly on Cavendish’s bottles.
The Dimension Data team uses several different types of hubs on rider bikes, including DT Swiss, Chris King, and Enve’s new ultralight molded carbon fiber model.
Heat-shrink tubing keeps the cabling nice and neat.
A CeramicSpeed bottom bracket fills the BBright shell.
This DT Swiss skewer has seen better days.
As always, the quick-release skewer handles are pointed toward each other.
Rotor has supplied Cavendish with a new – and somewhat convoluted – chain catcher.
A closer look at that Rotor chain catcher.