SRAM have confirmed Mark Cavendish will use their new hydraulic rim brakes at the Tour de France after RoadCyclingUK spotted the newly-crowned national champion testing the technology ahead of the Grand Depart.
We saw the Manx Missile set off from the team hotel in Porto-Vecchio, Corsica, with his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team-mates for a short training ride on a Specialized S-Works Venge equipped with the new SRAM Hydraulic Road Rim brakes.
“He test rode it, he loved it, he insisted on racing it,” said SRAM in a statement.
SRAM Red 22 – the American groupset manufacturer’s all-new flagship 11-speed groupset – was unveiled in April with three brake options: traditional rim brakes, hydraulic rim brakes and hydraulic disc brakes.
But owing to the fact the rest of Cavendish’s team-mates currently run SRAM’s existing 10-speed Red drivetrain, and every wheel in the team truck is fitted with a 10-speed cassette, SRAM’s BlackBox special projects initiative integrated the HRR brakes into Cavendish’s current setup.
With disc brakes yet to be approved for racing by the UCI, rim brakes are the only hydraulic option currently open to professional riders.
Cavendish, wearing the national champion’s jersey won in Glasgow last Sunday, emerged from the team hotel on Friday to inspect the machine (in exclusive Cavendish green) ahead of a ride which would double up as a final training spin before the Tour, and an opportunity to test the brakes.
SRAM’s team liaison manager, Alex Wassermann, was there to talk the 28-year-old, who will bid to pull on the yellow jersey on stage one, through the new setup.
Professional riders are traditionally very exact about their position on the bike and Cavendish asked the team’s mechanics to confirm the Venge was fitted with the same saddle he used to win the national championships, before requesting that the saddle height be dropped by one millimetre.
SRAM’s HRR setup uses tool-free calipers with a quick release and a barrel adjuster to give them the same usability as existing mechanical brake calipers. SRAM say they are more powerful than their existing Red brakes, but with not as much power as the new disc brakes. The shifter hoods are noticeably taller than those found on the existing Red group in order to house the hydraulics.
Wassermann told RoadCyclingUK there was no pressure on Cavendish, nor the team, to ride the new groupset, particularly on the eve of the most important race of the year.
Cavendish’s national champion’s jersey, meanwhile, has been prepared by the team’s kit sponsor, Vermarc, this week.
The white jersey has simple and elegant red, white and blue stripes around the middle, and, of course, rainbow bands on the sleeves and collar as a nod to Cavendish’s world championship win in 2011.
Cavendish’s shorts also have the British flag printed on the front of each leg, with red, white and blue bands then running around the back of the shorts.
However, Cavendish will hope his time in the jersey is short-lived and should he win the opening stage, he will become only the sixth British rider to wear the Tour de France’s maillot jaune after Tommy Simpson, Chris Boardman, Sean Yates, David Millar and Bradley Wiggins.