Rumors continue to circulate that sprinter Mark Cavendish will sign with MTN-Qhubeka for the coming season. Now, at least one informed source insists that the superstar will race on the South Africa squad’s Buffalo bike.
While most of riders are on high-end Cervelos, the Buffalo bike is provided in partnership with World Bicycle Relief. The versatile cargo bike is made from heavy gauge steel, has only one gear and sports a chain guard, fenders and coaster brakes.
The prospect of Cavendish attempting to win a WorldTour sprint in a grand tour seems impossible but the Manxman is confident of the sporting results. “I said recently I’m still as fast as ever. So I’m going to make that absolutely clear,” said Cavendish. “I will crush Greipel and Kittel on that shit piece of steel.”
A spokesman for World Bicycling Relief was impressed by Cavendish’s commitment to the cause. “This is fantastic, it puts the story of bikes for Africa right in the media, “said Willem Frooth, WBR communications director. “The Buffalo is meant to better the lives of countless Africans and if Cav wins a race, then what’s more inspiring than that?”
Plans are already in place for the squad to build a Buffalo train and get Cavendish back to his winning ways. “We’ve got Ciolek and Tyler Farrar and Matthew Goss and if we bring over Renshaw, Mark can beat anyone. The Buffalo will rock the peloton,” said team manager Brian Smith.
After a disappointing season in 2015 that culminated in a broken shoulder at the recent Tour of Britain, Cavendish is setting higher goals for next year. “I’ve won on super light race bikes. That’s easy, anyone can do that,” said Cavendish. “I don’t want any doubt that I’m the fastest guy in the world so I’m riding the Buffalo.”
While many question if Cavendish can win anything on a heavy steel bike built for the hard use and dirt roads of Africa, one former teammate believes it’s possible. “Oh yeah, for sure, he can do it,” said Sky’s Bernard Eisel. “Once Mark makes up his mind, nobody can stop him. They said he couldn’t get over the hills and win Milan-San Remo. He did. If he says he can win on a Buffalo, I believe him.”
Former Etixx-Quickstep manager Patrick Lefevere was surprised by Cavendish’s apparent plans. “I wish he had won more on that $10,000 Specialized bike we gave him. Then I would have re-signed him,” said Lefevere. “It’s a crazy idea. Not even a classics guy like Cancellara would win on a Buffalo. Mark has lost his head.”