Why are Jumbo-Visma using unbranded wheels in this year’s Tour de France?

We take a closer look at the unbranded wheels Jumbo-Visma have been using on Tour de France mountain stages

It’s been easy to spot the Jumbo-Visma team in the first week of the 2020 Tour de France: they’ve shown to be the dominant team in the race thus far. The Dutch team has won stages and controlled tempo at the head of the peloton in support of GC favourite Primož Roglič. But what’s with those unbranded black wheels they’re using?

The search for marginal gains in pro cycling is nothing new. However, Jumbo-Visma has been forced to look long and hard for ways to reduce the weight of their Bianchi Oltre XR4 bikes, which released in 2016, are no longer quite as slimline as they were upon their launch. Enter the ‘no name’ wheels, used primarily on the team’s climbing machines.

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Jumbo-Visma unbranded wheels

The unbranded Corima wheels used by Jumbo-Visma on mountain stages at the Tour de France (Image: Jonny Long/Cycling Weekly)

The wheels are actually Corima’s WS+ tubulars. The reason for Jumbo-Visma’s stealthy approach? The team is under contract to ride Shimano wheels. In some ways, the lack of branding has made the wheels standout more; especially contrasted against the tan-wall Vittoria Corsa rubber they use. With the likes of Roglič, Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss animating the race and grabbing plenty of screen time, the wheels have become quite a talking point.

The Corima wheels are lighter than any of the Shimano offerings, including its Dura-Ace C24 carbon model. It’s a matter of grams; the WS+ are approximately 10 grams lighter than the C24s but are substantially lighter than the Dura-Ace C40 wheels that Jumbo-Visma has ridden in previous races.

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Roglič and Tom Dumoulin have been spotted pairing a front Corima wheel with a deeper rear Dura-Ace wheel, while some riders like Robert Gesink and George Bennett have opted for unbranded Corima wheels front and back. The wheels when used alongside a couple of other weight-saving choices starts to add up.

Jumbo-Visma unbranded wheels

Primoz Roglic (left) and Tom Dumoulin (right) using a front unbranded Corima wheel with a rear Dura-Ace wheel (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

On the stages that have featured plenty of climbing, Jumbo-Visma have matched the black wheels with an eye-catching black colourway on their Bianchi frames. The reason for the departure from the iconic celeste? The black paint is actually a ‘unique paint system’.

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According to Bianchi it “significantly reduces the molecular weight of the coating”.  Sources say that the saving is around 80 grams. Add this to the fact that Jumbo-Visma are also riding the rim-brake version of the Ultra XR4. The rim brake frame is 60g lighter than the disc version. What’s more, the rim brake version of the Dura-Ace Di2 groupset used by the team is over 300 grams lighter than the disc equivalent.

Early signs are that the team are reaping the rewards. When Roglič rode away from his rivals on the last 150 metres of stage four to take the race’s first summit finish he did so in style aboard a black Bianchi.