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Mark Cavendish to ride a Specialized in 2011

Tarmacs, Shivs and Roubaix SLs all round as Specialized sign up another top team

Specialized and High Road Sports have announced "a multi-year partnership" beginning in 2011 that will see Mark Cavendish and his HTC-High Road team mates (as they will be for next season) riding on Specialized bikes in 2011.

Specialized  will supply the team’s frames, forks, and helmets. The men’s squad will race the S-Works Tarmac for most road races, the S-Works  Roubaix for cobbled classics, and the Shiv TT in time trials. Specialized will also supply S-Works  Prevail and TT3 helmets for road and time trials, respectively – although the "TT" bit probably gave that away anyway.

HTC's women's squad will will race on Amira road bikes , and Shiv TT bikes  for the time trials. They will also wear Prevail and TT3 helmets. Specialized have invested a lot of money into their women's specific range of bikes and according to Specialized boss Mike Sinyard, the chance to supply a top level women's team was one of the things that excited Specialized so much about the deal.

Specialized has moved quickly to shore up its position in the peloton having seen both it's other sponsored teams, Astana, and Saxo Bank dramatically weakened in the past few weeks. Alberto Contador won the Tour de France this year for Astana – riding Specialized's Tarmac SL – and was expected to continue his Tour winning form for the marque with his move to Team Saxo Bank. All bets on that score are now off as a result of the doping controversy that has since engulfed the Spaniard.

Saxo Bank initially looked to have scored a coup by signing Contador to replace the Schleck brothers, Frank and Andy, who left at the end of this season to set up their own Luxembourg based team – which will be riding on Trek bikes (a development that is rumoured not to have pleased at least one high profile rider of Trek road bikes). Indeed as we also report today the Contador signing and the strong possibility that he won't be riding in 2011 could have had disastrous consequences for the Danish team in terms of its sponsorship arrangements.

While neither Saxo Bank nor Astana now look to have any Grand Tour winners on their roster for 2011 they do have some star riders in the shape of Fabian Cancellara and Alexander Vinokourov that will continue to grab attention for Specialized. The deal with High Road Sports means that Mark Cavendish can now be added to that list. Specialized now have the world's top sprinter, and probably the best all-rounder and time triallist in Cancellara, plus Vinokourov who despite his tainted image continues to deliver as a GC rider even if he is no longer topping any classifications… and probably won't win any popularity prizes either.

Where the news leaves Scott, HTC's previous bike supplier is unclear - they were showing their arero prototype F01 road bike at Eurobike that Cavendish had been riding at this year's Tour - maybe today's announcement explains why they made relatively so little of it on their stand. HTC have enjoyed two phenomenal years as HTC's bike supplier with Mark Cavendish racking up six Tour de France stage wins in 2009 and adding another five in 2010, Andre Greipel also won the 2009 Vuelta points jersey a feat repeated in 2010 by Cavendish along the way HTC Columbia underlined its position as, dreadful phrase, the world's most 'winningest' cycling team.

You can read the joint announcement from High Road Sports and Specialized here's founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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