Technological Trends of the Tour de France – The Rise of Tubeless and Clincher Tires, But Are Tubulars Still Reigning?
It was Mathieu van der Poel in the second stage first, then Merlier in the third stage, but before the guts could claim three straight wins, Mark Cavendish snatched a win for the clinchers. Are tubulars still reigning supreme, or are tubeless and clincher setups still making their way into the pro peloton?
There has never been more mix of tire types in the pro peloton. Teams like Van der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix ââuse Shimano Dura-Ace wheels and tubulars, Deceuninck-Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe teams use Roval Rapide CLX wheels and tires, and UAE Team Emirates use OMC Campagnolo Bora Ultra fitted with Vittoria tubeless tires. Then you have a lot of teams, including Bahrain Victorious, that use a mix of tubular and tubeless tires. There is a lot of tire action out there!
The benefits of tubeless tires have been known for some time. They can have their drawbacks, but these are mostly dealt with before your ride when you have a team of mechanics getting your bike ready for you.
Here is a very brief overview of the pros and cons of tubeless tires.
- Keeps you from breaking through … most of the time
- Less rolling resistance for runners
- Lower pressures are comfortable
- Installation can be a real pain
- The sealant will not plug all punctures
- More difficult to drive than a tubular when fully deflated
So why the slow change?
Tubeless has been entering the pro peloton for a few years now, but the pros are notoriously resistant to change, not just in their bike technology, but in their training, diet, recovery and essentially everything that has to do with pedaling on the bike. ‘A bike.
Back when 25mm tires were becoming a thing, a French team asked their tire sponsor to label all new 25mm tires as 23mm. The mechanics knew the wider tires were faster, but also knew the riders wouldn’t appreciate the change. The pros trust what they know, so you’ll just have to forgive them for their resistance to change.
Tubeless tires: the hidden traps you’re trying to avoid
We’ve seen tubeless tires used in bigger races before. Alexander Kristoff (who is not competing in the Tour de France this year) appears to be a fan, having used them before for Paris-Roubaix (although he had a puncture several times that day).
The history of tube type tires at the highest level has not been so remarkable, but Julian Alaphilippe and Mark Cavendish have won stages on them in this year’s race.
Many pros still love hoses because of the safety they offer in the event of a puncture. As the tire is glued to the rim, it must remain there when deflated, allowing the rider to continue riding at the back of the peloton until his team car comes to change the wheel. This gives the rider a shorter chase towards the peloton.
Arguably, tire inserts such as the Vittoria Air Liner give tubeless tires a similar advantage as they allow you to roll if you lose pressure in your tires, doing a great job of keeping the tires on the rim flat. , although their editing does. reduce the weight gain of tubeless systems.
> Test: Vittoria Air-Liner Road Tubeless Insert Kit
In an ideal world, sponsors would prefer to see riders win on models that the public is likely to buy, i.e. wheels that take clincher tires and tubeless tires. The market for tubular wheel / tire systems is small.
Can we trust the opening week of the Tour de France?
Never have world cycling and the general media focused so much on the cycling race as during the first stages of the Tour de France. As a result, brands that pay riders to use their latest and greatest kit want it used. Preferably, their star rider will use it to win and then sing his praises to the pending media.
Discover the bikes that won each stage of the Tour de France 2021
Specialized has been one of the companies at the forefront of tubeless technology, but Roval’s latest wheelsets have avoided tubeless, opting for a tube-type tire design (Roval is owned by Specialized although it is managed as a separate company).
> Lighter, wider, more aerodynamic: which wheels are best suited to your type of riding?
World champion Julian Alaphilippe took the victory on Roval’s Rapide CLX wheelset on the first leg to Landerneau. The wheels were wrapped in Specialized Turbo Cotton tires, almost certainly with latex tubes inside.
Mathieu van der Poel of the Alpecin-Fenix ââWildcard team took the victory and the yellow jersey of stage 2 after attacking in both climbs of the Mur de Bretagne. He rode Shimano’s Dura-Ace C60 with Vittoria Corsa tubulars, claiming a tubular victory.
Stage 3 followed the Alpecin-Fenix ââand Vittoria gut path again, with Tim Merlier crossing the line first, after a fall a few hundred yards from the line outweighed the competition, including Caleb Ewan from Lotto-Soudal and Peter Sagan from Bora Hansgrohe.
Mark Cavendish won Stage 4, his first Tour de France stage victory in five years, while securing a second victory for the Roval Rapide CLX wheelset / Specialized Turbo Cotton tire set up during the race. of this year.
Then came the first time trial of stage 5, with Tadej Pogacar perfectly timed. He took the win with a Bora WTO 77 tubeless ready front wheel wrapped in Vittoria’s Corsa Speed ââTubeless tire, while at the rear he had the Bora Ultra TT tubular-only with the Vittoria Corsa Speed. hose.
Deceuninck-Quick Step managed the treble of victories for his clincher system in Stage 6, while Mark Cavendish himself achieved a treble of Tour stage wins at Chateauroux.
Matej Mohjoric of Bahrain Victorious won the longest stage of the Tour de France in 21 years using Continental Competition Pro Ltd ALX tubulars mounted on a Vision Metron SL Disc wheelset.
Bahrain’s Dylan Teuns Victorious took the second victory for the team and another for Continental’s tubulars on Stage 8, also wrapped around the Vision Metron SL Disc wheels.
AG2R-CitroÃ«n uses both tubular and tubeless tubing, Ben O’Connor opted for Campagnolo Bora One wheels with Pirelli P Zero Race Tub SL tubes for his impressive solo victory on Stage 9 in the Alps .
All in all, in terms of victories, this is how the battle between clinchers, tubeless and tubulars is currently unfolding.
- Tubular: 5.5
- Clinchers: 3
- Without chamber: 0.5
[The half marksÂ are because Tadej Pogacar used one tubeless tyre and one tubular.]
Of course, we are not suggesting that these riders won because of the tires they chose; we just use the stage wins as a preview of what’s going on in the peloton.
How will the rest of the Tour prepare for the clincher, tubeless and tubular systems? The clinchers seem to be doing very well – thanks to some very talented riders, obviously – but if Ben O’Connor’s choice for the mountain top finish in Tignes is any indication, we can probably expect the climbers stick to their guts. Tubeless seemed to gain a foothold in the pro field last year, but it hasn’t been very successful so far this year in terms of wins, so the next few weeks are going to be interesting.