Both of Specialized’s sponsored WorldTour men’s teams, Bora Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep, are looking to ditch tubular tyres entirely for the 2021 season.
Both teams have already committed to stop using tubulars for all events except for the Classics, however, further testing is ongoing to optimise tyre choice for these races in a bid to commit to clincher tyres entirely for the 2021 season.
In a recent video with Velon, Bora-Hansgrohe mechanic Risto Usin is quoted as saying “we are not using any more tubular tyres. We are using Turbo Cotton, so it’s basically clincher tyres with an inner tube.” However, seeking further confirmation, Cyclingnews reached out to Bora Hansgrohe press officer, Ralph Scherzer, who confirmed: “only clinchers for 2021, as it stands”.
“We’re still doing some testing with Deceuninck-QuickStep on the Classics routes,” explained Leo Menville, road team liaison at Specialized S-Racing. “At the moment, they’re thinking to use only Turbo Cottons or RapirAir tyres with latex tubes. Turbo Cottons will certainly be used in 80 per cent of the races.”
The decision marks a more concrete commitment to a trend that made itself known during the 2020 season. Amid the much-debated rise of tubeless tyres, Roval surprisingly launched two tubeless-incompatible clincher wheelsets, the aero Rapide CLX and lightweight Alpinist CLX. These new wheelsets were used by both teams alongside the older CLX 50 tubeless and tubular options throughout the shortened 2020 season, with the limelight at its peak during Julian Alaphilippe’s time in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
“When it’s possible to create tubeless wheel/tyre systems that outperform tube-type clincher systems, that’s what we’ll recommend to riders,” read a statement from Roval, in a u-turn from its previous heavy stance in favour of tubeless technology.
Of the two tyres available to the teams, the Turbo Cotton is the pure clincher option with its porous cotton sidewalls. The Turbo Cotton will be the preferred choice for drier days where speed is preferred over grip and puncture protection.
The Turbo RapidAir, on the other hand, was launched with maximum attention on its tubeless compatibility. However, when paired with the new tube-type-only Roval wheelsets, the focus is turned towards the grip, puncture protection, which are said to be higher, and the rim-tyre interface which is said to be more secure – enough to be safe and controllable, should a puncture occur.
What’s more, the teams will pair the tyres with latex inner tubes, which are known to offer lower rolling resistance than traditional or lightweight butyl inner tubes.