French sports newspaper L’Equipe has today reported that Specialized is set to replace Pinarello as Team Sky’s bike supplier from next season, with the partnership worth a purported €6 million a year to the British ProTeam.
As supplier to HTC Highroad, Specialized of course supplied the bike that Mark Cavendish rode to world championship success in Copenhagen last September, with all but one of the seven riders supporting him drawn from the ranks of Team Sky and therefore riding Pinarello bikes.
Cavendish’s relationship with Specialized was seen as one of the reasons for the delay in the Manxman being confirmed as having signed for Team Sky long after many had assumed it was a fait accompli, with rumours that he might make a surprise move to Omega Pharma-Quick Step, which had lined up Specialized to replace Eddy Merckx as its bike supplier for 2012.
The blog A Twisted Spoke even managed to hoodwink a good few people into believing that a Pinarello/Specialized hybrid was in the works to get around the issue and keep both brands happy.
Although Cavendish had only being riding Specialized since the start of the 2011 season when it replaced Scott as HTC-Highroad’s bike sponsor, the brand used him heavily in its advertising within the cycling press and at point of sale.
Currently, Specialized supplies three UCI WorldTour teams – the others, besides Omega Pharma-Quick Step, are Saxo Bank and Astana – with L’Equipe saying that the US based firm will be ending its relationship with the latter at the end of this season.
There could well be implications beyond the supply of frames, with Specialized potentially in line to replace Kask as Team Sky’s helmet supplier, for example.
Since Cavendish signed for Team Sky, the outfit has already switched from Prologo saddle to Fizik, as used by the rider at HTC-Highroad, and Deda Elementi has been replaced by Pro for components including stems and bars.
The latter is a sub-brand of Shimano which of course already supplied Team Sky’s groupsets and wheels among other components, but it’s significant that had previously developed the custom oversize stem that Cavendish had previously used at HTC and continues to employ at Sky.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.