Irish Pro Conti team Aqua Blue Sport made waves by being the first professional team to race a 1x road bike drivetrain on their 3T Strada bikes. Now over the weekend they had something else new – racing on the first road bike tubulars from the rebirth of Pirelli in cycling.
Pirelli 28mm P Zero pro-only road race tubular tires
A technical partnership between Pirelli & Aqua Blue is said to give them exclusive access to the new road tubulars before they come to market, at least for the time being. The team started racing on the new tubulars over the weekend at the Amstel Gold race.
We’ve heard rumors of Pirelli expanding their road offerings after the promising debut of their P-Zero clincher tires last summer. While we would have expected tubeless versions of their tires to show up first, Pirelli prides itself on a racing heritage. And the pros have yet to be convinced of tubeless, even with all of the empirical studies showing the clear performance gains of tubeless’ lower rolling resistance.
Like they do in motorsports racing, Pirelli promises the relationship with Aqua Blue will help them continue to develop their cycling tire tech. Not simply a sponsorship deal, they plan to use the team as a real world R&D lab, so we’ll expect to see more and more prototype tires tested in pro racing.
The team is now racing a new 28mm Pirelli PZero Velo tubular, said to have been optimized for aerodynamics on the oversized tube shaping of the 3T Strada. The subtle tread pattern along the shoulders of the prototype tubular is most similar, but not identical to the standard PZero Velo silver clinchers on which the team regularly trains. We assume that they use the same SmartNet Silica nanotech that Pirelli puts in the rest of the PZero Velo lineup. The team tires get a yellow hot stamp, which under Pirelli motorsports conventions might suggest a soft compound, but we suspect here it is just a special edition color to show that it is different.
There is no word yet on if these tubulars will be made available to consumers. But based on our discussions with Pirelli last fall, we do expect to see news of road tubeless versions coming this summer.