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Pro bike: Mark Cavendish's 2022 Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7

Joe Robinson
5 Jan 2022

Can the Manxman make Tour de France history this summer?

The renaissance man Mark Cavendish has one last shot to make Tour de France history. 

The 36-year-old sprinter rolled back the clock in 2021, taking four Tour stage wins to equal Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stages, in a comeback that would not look out of place in an Oscar-nominated motion picture. It proved you should never write anyone off. 

For his troubles, Cavendish was offered a one-year contract extension by Patrick Lefevere and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and the chance to make history.

If he manages to topple Merckx's record, he will be doing it on this bike, his 2022 Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7

American bike giant Specialized took on sponsorship of the Belgian team in 2012 and has since claimed in excess of 600 victories together, with its current deal lasting until the 2027 season and including wheels, components, helmets and shoes in addition to the bikes.

For the upcoming season, Cavendish will be let loose most likely exclusively on Specialized's S-Works Tarmac SL7, the do-it-all race all-rounder that was released back in 2020. The 'bike for all occasions' to the Manxman to his four Tour de France stage wins in 2021 and he'll be relying on it for the coming season too, albeit with a few changes.

The first will have little effect on his performance and that's the bike's paintjob. Out with the understated black and blue gloss frame, in with the rather fancy iridescent matt blue fade, a definite upgrade in our books. Also retained is the wolf decal on the bike's top tube as a reminder of the team's love of 1990s hit show Gladiators. Cavendish will be riding a 52cm frame.

The next big shift we see is that Cavendish's bike is fitted with the new Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 12-speed groupset. The new semi-wireless system was released in August last year but supply issues delayed its introduction to the pro peloton until now. 

Notoriously fastidious with componentry, it will be interesting to see how Cavendish gets on with the new groupset. In the past, he's been known to use non-sponsor correct cranksets. 

From the photos supplied, it also appears Cavendish will be opting for a 54/40 ratio at the front and an 11-30 at the back. The Shimano crank includes an integrated power meter and is fitted with matching pedals. Cavendish will also be making use of a K-Edge chain catcher, and a CeramicSpeed bottom bracket presumably in search of extra watt savings.

Bike sponsor Specialized also provides the team with wheels and for Cavendish, it's a set of clincher Roval Rapide CLXs with 25mm Specialized Turbo Cotton tyres. While the use of clincher tyres is unlikely to trouble Cavendish this season, his Spring Classics-hunting teammates Yves Lampaert and Zdeněk Štybar may rue the lack of tubeless alternatives considering their punctured-laden Paris-Roubaix at the back end of last season. Roval is also provides its Rapide handlebars and S-Works Tarmac integrated stem in what looks to be 120 or 130mm length.

Also from Specialized it the £390 S-Works Power with Mirror stubby saddle, while Tacx provides bottle cages, Supacaz the bar tape and Garmin the head unit.