Digging through the rush of the paddocks of the men’s and women’s pro peloton gearing up for yesterday’s Tour of Flanders, we spotted a few new bikes and components designed to get the riders up and over the race’s steep cobbled climbs and the number of pavé sections interspersed throughout. At first glance the biggest difference vs. the typical bikes the pros race throughout the year, is that in the northern classics lots of special tires come out. While we counted at least 9 teams between the two elite races rolling on Vittoria tubulars, including a mix of previous generation Corsa SC and Pave CG to the new Graphene+ Corsas, only two teams were riding a new unmarked prototype that caught our eye. Take a closer look, get some more details, plus see why Giant-Alpecin were running 105 brakes…
The new tire is looks to be a combination of the fast rolling new siped tread center of the recently introduced Corsa, with the addition of alternating chevron shoulders for loose surface cornering grip, as a bit of a carry over from the pervious Pavé. The tire also bears a strong resemblance to the other recent Corsa tires, so it looks like it will use the same 320 TPI Kevlar-reinforced Corespun cotton casing, latex inner tube, and multi-compound Graphene + rubber.
We’ve spoken with Vittoria about the new tire and they’ve told us that it is a tire developed in partnership with Giant-Alpecin to meet their needs for the cobbled classics. Vittoria says that it is still in the testing phase so they have no firm date on its release or a finalized name for it yet, but they did confirm that it is a 28mm classics tubular. There had been some chatter that riders (and mechanics weren’t entirely thrilled to lose the Pavé that had been a mainstay of the spring classics, especially with the recent trend towards wider tires in the pro peloton, so this looks like it might offer a good replacement.
The Giant-Alpecin team was riding the prototype tires both front and back for added comfort and grip on the cobbles. The fat tires were a bit of a tight fit for them under their standard Dura-Ace single-bolt mount brakes, so they switch across the board on their rim-brake (previous generation) Defy Advanced SL framesets to what appear to be 105 dual-pivot SLR EV brakes, minus the 105 series branding.
The Orica-AIS Scott Foil bikes use direct mount calipers which lend a bit more clearance, so their team was able to stick with the standard Dura-Ace calipers. Also, generally being a bit lighter than the men, the Orica-AIS women didn’t need quite as much cush, so the team only used the new 28mm prototype tires in the rear and went with the new Corsa 25mm tubulars up front.
Interestingly, when we reached out to Vittoria, they asked which specific prototype tire we were asking about. So I guess we have to keep our eyes peeled, as there are clearly more of them out floating around!