Team Ineos, instead of Shimano, rolled out on new Lightweight wheels at the Tour de France today in view of the mountain stages to come.
2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal and the rest of the eight-man roster began the lumpy stage five to Colmar on the wheelsets the retail at around £5000.
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“The team look into everything. They just say, theses are good, so I use them,” Thomas told Cycling Weekly.
“Yeah [lighter wheels are better on the climbs], so obviously you don’t just want to use them for the first time like tomorrow on a decisive day so we put them on today to get use to them a bit.”
Tomorrow, Thomas and the Tour riders face the first of several mountain days in the 2019 edition. The hard stage ends with the 7km climb up La Planche des Belles Filles.
The team appear to be using the Lightweight Meilenstein Obermayer, weighing 935g for the tubular set. The wheels are handmade in Germany and first noted in the peloton when Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong used them.
Thomas prepared for the Tour de France by putting in the hard miles, but also by testing these wheels and the Muc-Off chain that Ineos uses.
“I used the wheels a bit in training,” he added. “But I didn’t know if we were definitely going to use them or not until we came here.”
“Why now? We think it’s exciting to try something new,” said Carsten Jeppersen, Team Ineos’s head of technical operations. “This year we are working with two different brands of wheels.”
Normally, Ineos would use the Shimano C40 wheels to ride in the Tour de France mountains and other tough climbing days around the world.
“We can confirm we will use wheels from two brands during this year’s Tour,” the team said. “Shimano remains our main supplier and they are a valued partner for Team Ineos.”
Shimano sponsors the team, but Lightweight does not. Without a deal, the management would have to had bought the eight wheelset and many spares, that were mounted on the extra bikes today, out of the team’s budget.