Mark Cavendish looks set to ride Wilier bikes this year in Astana Qazaqstan colours and a new eye-catching “chrome-plated graphite-livery” revealed by the bike brand.
The heavily rumoured – but unconfirmed – signing would see the British national champion move from Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and swap from Specialized, with whom Cavendish has enjoyed a long-standing relationship through his career.
Cavendish’s Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl contract expired at the end of 2022, with the rumour mill going into overdrive concerning the Manx Missile’s next destination as he looks to become the outright record holder for Tour de France stage wins. Cavendish’s four victories at the 2021 Tour saw him draw level with Eddy Merckx on 34 wins.
The 37-year-old had been rumoured to be heading for Jérôme Pineau’s B&B Hotels-KTM squad but, with the team folding, Astana Qazaqstan has emerged as the likely destination.
If Cavendish does head to Alexander Vinokourov’s team, these are the bikes he’ll have at his disposal.
Which Wilier bike could Mark Cavendish ride?
Wilier supplies Astana Qazaqstan with two road bikes.
If we see Cavendish in Astana kit, it’s more likely he’ll be on the Filante SLR, which is better suited to sprinting thanks to its more aero shape.
While the frames are unchanged, Wilier has released new colourways for the team for the 2023 campaign.
The ‘chrome-plated graphite livery’ matches Astana Qazaqstan’s ‘azzurro’ (light blue) strip, in keeping with the team’s Italian roots.
Towards the rear of the frame, the matt marble effect gives way to silver on the Filante SLR and a darker blue on the Zero SLR.
The team’s bikes are specced with 12-speed Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9200, Corima 47 MC WS+ wheels and Vittoria Corsa tyres. We believe there could be a new tan-wall Vittoria Corsa ‘Pro’ tubeless tyre on the way in 2023.
New team, new bike brand
If Cavendish joins Astana Qazaqstan, it will be the seventh top-tier team of his professional cycling career, and, in riding a Wilier, the eighth bike brand he has been associated with.
2006 – Giant
2007 – Giant
2008 – Giant
2009 – Scott
2010 – Scott
2011 – Specialized
2012 – Pinarello
2013 – Specialized
2014 – Specialized
2015 – Specialized
2016 – Cervélo
2017 – Cervélo
2018 – Cervélo
2019 – BMC
2020 – Merida
2021 – Specialized
2022 – Specialized
2023 – Wilier?
Specialized has provided both of Mark Cavendish’s green jersey bikes: the now-discontinued Specialized S-Works Venge in 2011 (the year Cavendish also won the UCI Road World Championships) and the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 in 2021, upon which he equalled Eddy Merkcx’s Tour de France stage wins record.
Cavendish started his pro career in 2006 on the T-Mobile team, riding a Giant, securing his first Tour de France stage on the Giant TCR in 2008.
Two prolific years followed on a Scott bike, with six Tour de France stages in 2009 and five in 2010, before the team, now known as HTC-Highroad, switched to Specialized for 2011.
One year at Team Sky saw Cavendish on a Pinarello, followed by another three years with Specialized at Omega Pharma–Quick-Step.
The Manxman secured four wins at the Tour in 2016 aboard a Cervélo representing Team Dimension Data, who then swapped to BMC for Cavendish’s three final years with the team. A move to Bahrain-Merida in 2020 saw Cavendish on a Merida Reacto for a year, before a return to Deceuninck–Quick-Step came with another two seasons on a Specialized.
We’ll have to wait and see if a new bike and team sees Cavendish return to winning ways at the Tour de France in 2023.