It’s still not clear why Mark Cavendish was swapping back and forth between his old and new Specialized S-Works Venge aero race bikes during the first week of the Tour de France. One journalist on the ground at the race claims the Manx Missile had issues with the braking performance on the new bike and was reticent to ride it in the rain or mountains.
Indeed, the Venge ViAS (as in Venge Integrated Aero System) takes a unique approach to brake placement, with the front brake residing behind (not in front of) the fork and the rear brake nestled into the backside of the seat tube. Specialized claims to have done significant testing to assure braking performance is on par with the best-in-class Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 set-up, but perhaps Cavendish didn’t agree.
It’s also possible the Etixx-Quick Step rider was simply still trying to dial in fit and feel. When millimeters matter, it can be hard for top-level pros to change bikes without significant adjustment time. Cavendish only got his full production model last month at the Tour de Suisse. Maybe he blamed the new bike for his lack of stage wins over the race’s first six stages, which included two triumphs by top sprinting rival Andre Greipel, who rides a Ridley.
Whatever the case, Cavendish was back on the new Venge for stage 7 — and finally broke through with his first Tour stage win since way back in 2013. (You’ll remember Cav crashed out of the race last year near the end of the first stage.) Here’s a look at both the stage and the winning bike.