Is the Paris-Roubaix tubular dead? Why tubeless tyres are winning on the cobbles

The unique challenges of the Hell of the North place much emphasis on wheel selection. We talk to two teams and two wheel manufacturers about solving the problem that is Roubaix

Matteo Jorgenson rides Zipp tubeless wheels at Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: Getty Images / Jorge Luis Alvarez Pupo)

Last year’s Paris-Roubaix represented a watershed moment for tubeless technology at the WorldTour level. Both the winners of the men’s and women’s race, Sonny Colbrelli and Lizzie Deignan, did so riding tubeless set-ups. But it was the sheer number of riders who’d turned their backs on tubulars that really struck a chord. 

Of all the Classics, Paris-Roubaix was seen as a true tubular stronghold. Due to the severity of the cobbled sectors the ability to ride them flat for longer distances paid extra dividends in a race where it's often difficult for team cars carrying spare bikes and wheels to reach their riders, making the switch to tubeless even more pronounced. 

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Freelance writer

Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for twenty five years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He has been a cycling enthusiast from an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a keen follower of bike racing to this day as well as a regular road and gravel rider.