The Ineos Grenadiers appear to have been spotted experimenting with wheel choice once again, this time at Saturday’s stage 20 Tour de France time trial.
The team is sponsored by Shimano, so typically riders run the brand’s Dura-Ace wheels on the road, or the Pro disc wheels when racing the clock.
Ineos’ decision to opt for Lightweight wheels in the mountains is well documented, but evidence suggests the team is also testing the waters when it comes to time trials.
On Monday, Ineos’ riders were pictured using a Princeton CarbonWorks Wake 6560 front wheel for the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial. These wheels feature a wavy rim which alternates between 60mm and 65mm in depth, designed to reduce the effect of ‘votex shedding’, and slash drag. The wheels can also be run as a clincher, which, reportedly offers the lowest rolling resistance when paired with latex tubes, or tubeless.
Princeton CarbonWorks could have competition for Ineos’ affections, though. For Saturday’s Tour de France time trial, riders looked to be pairing the front with a rear disc that looked decidedly like the Aeox manufactured by optimisation, coaching and product experts Aerocoach.
Looking closely at the wheels run by Ineos, we can see the checkerboard carbon weave, as well as a double bulge with a sharp defined edge around the central portion. Whilst other disc wheels, such as Specialized’s wheel brand Roval have a bulge, only Aerocoach’s Aeox looks quite like this.
The course’s 36.2 kilometre profile consisted of a flat opening 14km, a gradual climb on the Col de la Chevestraye followed by a descent, and then the categorised climb to La Planche des Belles Filles. Weight would always be a factor, with several riders – including Ineos’ Richard Carapaz – swapping to a road bike for the final climb.
Aerocoach proudly announced on its Facebook page earlier this week that “the Aeox Ultra disc is the lightest tubeless disc wheel on the market”, coming in at 970g, hinting at the reason behind the choice.
Analysing the course for Cycling Weekly earlier this week, director of testing, coaching and aero product at Aerocoach Xavier Disley noted that he expected some riders to swap on to a road bike for the final climb in pursuit of weight savings – though he didn’t advise it.
“The risk of a botched change is high – we’ve seen this before – and the bike would need to be quite a lot lighter to account for the lost time (over 1.5kg lighter), as well as having a perfect changeover,” he said.
As well as being an industry leader in terms of weight, the Aeox wheels are built with internal spokes, increasing stiffness and creating the distinctive shape. Aeorcoach reportedly used CFD, windtunnel and outdoor tests to design the wheel with the effect of the cassette, rear mech and frame in mind.