Mark Cavendish makes his return to racing this week, and in a new pair of shoes no less.
Riding the Tour of Oman as part of Quick Step Alpha-Vinyl’s six-man team Cavendish is wearing what looks to be the hotly anticipated Specialized S-Works 8 model.
The shoe had been spotted at DirectEnergies training camp earlier this month as we reported last week. Seen on the feet of Daniel Oss, Geoffery Soupe (who confirmed he was wearing new shoes in his Instagram post) and others, this blacked out version appeared to be designed to deliberately fly under the radar.
However, keeping a low profile isn’t really Cavendish’s game. The best sprinter of his generation has opted for a bright white pair, with a contrasting black tongue and Specialized logos.
So what’s the difference between this new shoe and the S-Works 7 model that’s still available? The obvious change is the lack of the velcro toe strap. In this new model retention and fit is left solely to the two Boa S3-Snap dials that also feature on the 7. The placement of these proprietary dials looks pretty similar too.
On closer inspection the new shoes have a significantly different outer heel cup. Here it sits far lower than on the 7 or indeed on any of Specialized’s many road shoes. The addition of a reinforced toe bumper is also new and appears to give the shoe a squarer profile.
If this is indeed the S-Works 8 on Cav’s feet, then it continues Specialized’s approach of ‘more is more’ when it comes to its road shoe range. Already full to the brim with shoes such as the super lightweight S-Works EXOS and the sprint-ready S-Works Ares, this line-up was further bolstered this year with the release of the S-Works 7 Lace.
The Tour de la Provence, which also begins today, should also provide further opportunity to stake out the new shoes. Specialized sponsored teams at the stage race are Quick-Step, whose line-up includes world champion Julian Alaphillippe, and a Peter Sagan-less DirectEnergies.
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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.
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