Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia) has been setting the professional road race scene alight with his blazing sprints, racking up an impressive number of wins in a very short space of time. For Cavendish to excel in the super fast sprints of the Tour, he needs a fast bike, and in the Giant TCR Advanced SL, we think he might just have the fastest bike.

Cavendish celebrates - (Pic Geoff Waugh

Giant’s TCR Advanced has been around for a few years, but for 2008 we’ve spotted Cavendish campaigning aboard its replacement, the all-new TCR Advanced SL. Giant have been busy working on making this new frameset a significant technological leap forward, with changes designed to make it lighter and stiffer.

Giant have beefed this frame up, with press-fit bottom bracket bearings allowing the use of a wide 80mm downtube. As well as being wider, the downtube is also a rounded square shape and flares into the oversized and tapered headtube. Inside, a 1 1/8” to 1 ¼” steerer is the current trend sweeping the cycling world and provides a much stiffer front-end.

The top tube is trapezoidal shaped to stiffen the chassis, and the integrated seat mast is said to allow some flex for seated comfort. Seatstays are thin affairs and the dropouts are aluminium – Giant preferring to stay away from carbon dropouts for now. To eliminate rubbing your legs on the rear brake cable housing, Giant has routed it through the top tube, and it pops out on the underside where it continues to the front of the frame – it also allows a straight cable route.

All these changes to the frame should result in a bike that will hopefully help Cavendish to take a few stage wins in this years Tour.

Cavendish’s Giant rolls on Zipp wheels and a full 2009 Shimano Dura-Ace groupset.

Mark has scored two wins at the 2008 Giro d'Italia and the bike featured was the one he used to win at the Three Days of de Panne in April and hence the High Road rather than Team Columbia branding.