This article first appeared on Cyclingnews.
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) is within touching distance of taking the record for the most Tour de France stage victories in history.
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While the Manxman is yet to get off of the mark at this year's Tour, the former world champion has been improving stage-by-stage and made a top-ten finish in the run-in to Chartres on stage seven of the race.
The current record holder for Tour stage wins – 34 – is Eddy Merckx, who had a reputation for carrying a 5mm hex key in his jersey for on-the-fly bike-fit adjustments throughout his career.
Just four wins away from the Belgian's record, the similarities between the two riders are not limited to their Tour-stage-victory tallies. Like Merckx, Cavendish is a serial bike tinkerer and adjusts his bike fit and setup on an almost daily basis.
Speaking to Cyclingnews ahead of stage six, Cavendish explained some of his reasoning behind the persistent adjustments, after being watched adjusting his handlebars meticulously with two mechanics on hand with hex keys and torque wrenches to lock in Cavendish's desired positioning.
"Your body changes from day to day, you know? Your body is shorter in the evening than it is in the morning," he explained. "It's nothing in particular that I change. It might just be a habit.
"Some people feel a difference, some people don't. I guess I've got less body – I'm so short – and I say that with my tongue in my cheek. It's sometimes the bars, sometimes the saddle just by a couple of millimetres day by day. If I have a bad mattress at a hotel, sometimes my back can be a little bit funny.
"I might be particular, and some people just get on with it, but I like to be comfortable."
Last year's Tour for Cavendish came to a now infamous early finish after he collided with Peter Sagan in the finale of stage four of the race. As he did last year, Cavendish arrived at the 2018 Tour with a custom-painted Cervelo S5 frameset.
Various fades throughout the frameset include chrome, green, black and white, with contrasting decals and fine-finishing details throughout.
A Shimano Dura-Ace R9150 groupset provides the shifting and stopping for the Manxman, while Cavendish opts for a 54-tooth outer chainring on his Rotor 2InPower crankset.
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Carbon components specialists ENVE finish Cavendish's bike with SES Aero carbon handlebars and stem, and 4.5 SES wheels, which Cavendish has used both in the standard team-issue version and his own set with custom decals to match the finish of his bike.
As with many sprinters at the top level of the sport, Cavendish runs satellite sprint shifters on his handlebar drops. While common practice is to have the buttons on the inside of the drops, Cavendish runs his on the front outer edge of the handlebars, to use with his index fingers.
Click or swipe through the gallery above for a closer look at the former world champion's aero race bike.
- Frame: Cervelo S5 in custom colours for Mark Cavendish
- Fork: Cervelo S5 in custom colours for Mark Cavendish
- Front brake: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100
- Rear brake: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100
- Brake/shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace R9150 with satellite shifters
- Front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace R9150
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace R9150
- Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100
- Chain: KMC X11-SL Green
- Crankset: Rotor 2InPower, 54/42
- Wheelset: ENVE 4.5 SES with custom decals for Mark Cavendish
- Tyres: Continental Competition ALX, 25mm tubular
- Handlebars: ENVE SES Aero
- Stem: ENVE SES Aero
- Headset: FSA
- Pedals: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100
- Saddle: Astute
- Seatpost: Cervelo S-Series
- Bottle cages: Elite Vico Carbon