Rich’s tweet about a Continental announcement caught my attention. Continental claimed that Tony Martin, 2011’s World Champion, had achieved his decisive win on their new Grand Prix TT clincher. A Worlds win on a clincher, let alone the time trial seemed a little far fetched.
Strange thing is, it DOES look like Martin is riding clinchers, although perhaps not the new TT clincher being claimed. Close scrutiny of his bike as he rolls out of the start house reveals him using two tires that, as far as I know, are only available as clinchers – the GP 4000 RS, and the GP Attack. (Rich informs me the 4000 RS has been available as a tubular before) The aluminum brake tracks also give a good indication he’s really riding clinchers – they appear to be HED Jet wheels, possibly a Jet 9 in front and a Jet Disc in back (confirmed by HED). With the newly announced TT tire being based on the GP 4000, it’s entirely possible that one is the new TT tire, labeled as a regular 4000 RS with a special layup. The differing labels between the front and the back further reinforces the idea that we’re not the victims of marketing subterfuge – otherwise we’d be more likely to see the same labeling on both tires.
Clinchers have been used to varying success by teams in a variety of race conditions. Is this the first time we’ve seen one that’s been used to win a World Championship?
Update: Here’s a pic of Bert Grabsch running a similar setup, with GP 4000RS front and rear
Great observation! And isn't the Attack supposed to be the *front* tire, the Force being optimized to be the rear tire of the Attack/Force combo?
Yep, the Attack is supposed to be the front.
Yes that's correct on the tyres, but in case you don't know why I'll shed some light on the subject.
When the concept was first birthed onto the market nearly ten years ago (yes, that long ago) the concept had been brought about because of their work with Motorbikes and understanding wear patterns, rolling resistance and puncture breakers. The front was created to cut through the air as quickly as possible, so a 22mm size was used, mated to a 23mm on the rear. If you've never used an original set they happen to some of the quickest tyres around and real dare devils in the corners. Weight was reduced as it was discovered that most punctures happen on the rear, so one puncture layer was removed. The benefits where that the tyre was lighter, and most importantly it rolled better into the corners. Removing the breaker layer allowed the front and rear to have the same wear rate, a common problem for dual direction tyres.
The latest edition of these tyres has the rear Force now measuring at 24mm, which for a Pro's rear tyre is entering the realms of the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix, probably a bit overkill for a speed freak TT. Having chatting to the guys at Conti in the UK they couldn't be 100% sure that the Team where not using some development tyres which had received some 'Hot Stamps' to disguise them from view. I ave written a little bit about it here http://sprintingforsigns.posterous.com/tony-martin-and-those-clinchers . I hope that sheds some extra light on the subject.