Pro bike: Mark Cavendish’s record-breaking Wilier Filante SLR

A closer look at the bike on which the magic 35th Tour de France stage win was captured

“He is the yellow jersey of the sprinters” is how Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme described Mark Cavendish after his historic, record-breaking sprint into Saint-Vulbas on July 3. Yellow is of course not the sprinters' colour, but the sheer 'yellow' of what he just did eclipses everything else for Prudhomme, and for all of us. There’s a new world champion crowned and a new green jersey pulled on every year, but it’s nearly 50 years since Merckx won his 34th and final Tour stage in 1975. There are those splashes of yellow on the 39-year-old’s custom-painted Wilier Filante SLR, paying tribute to when he wore the yellow leader’s jersey for one day back in 2016, but perhaps they now look a little bit insufficient.

In the post-race press conference Cavendish didn’t appear to have a plan for what comes next, even though he will have been thinking about this moment for years – but what's for certain is that the material things from that magical day, like his bike, will be marvelled over by future generations of fans and riders and are already part of cycling history.

Mark Cavendish's custom Wilier Filante SRL handlebar from the front

James Startt shot Cavendish’s bike at the Grand Départ in Florence. For a bike destined for greatness just six days later it leans against the wall in the bright sunshine almost too casually. Now, even the slightest scuff it picked up on its journey to Saint-Vulbas will be part of its story. 

Vision Metron rear wheel of Mark Cavendish's custom Wilier Filante SRL

The setup is almost exactly the same here as when Cavendish crossed the line on stage five – perhaps most obviously except for the wheel decals. Here the Vision Metron 60SLs have the standard white stickers, but the Italian wheel brand had caught up with the custom colour scheme by the time Cavendish was racing – or most likely the ones shot here were just for riding around at the presentation. He’s running Vittoria Corsa Pro tubular tyres in the 28mm size – the tan sidewalls add a classic style to the abstract paint splatters of the frame and handlebar.

Mark Cavendish's custom Wilier Filante SRL handlebar from the side

The integrated cockpit is on-scheme, painted to blend with the frame and mostly yellow with splashes of red, green and Astana sky blue.

As for Cavendish’s own equipment, he had been spotted wearing a pair of Nopinz P35 aero socks that retail for £999.99 on the British brand’s website. There’s not much information about exactly how many watts they claim to save or why they cost as much as they do, but on the day he broke the record he was wearing standard socks. The only description is that they are: “Designed by champions for champions. These exceptional socks are crafted for a groundbreaking project, offering unparalleled performance and comfort.”

Instead of the gold-accented Limar Air Atlas helmet that was presented to him early in the season, at the Tour Cavendish has been wearing another custom version with a green ‘UFO’ section – the removable fairing at the rear. This has made it easier to pick him out from other Astana riders in TV shots from behind the peloton.

This bike was designed for an iconic moment and as it turned out there was none better for the job.

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