Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling will be racing on custom-painted Ribble Ultra SL R bikes with choice upgrades for the 2022 season.
The UCI Continental squad, which now includes Tanfield brothers Harry and Charlie, unveiled the team edition of the radical aero race bike at Ribble's Clitheroe flagship store on Tuesday night - and our photographer Andy Jones was there to capture some exclusive photos.
The team edition Ultra SL R gets a striking new custom paintjob that Ribble says features a Midnight Ink, Fresh Mandarin and Alpine White palette with a metallic finish.
It's not specced with the latest Shimano Dura-Ace 9200; rather it gets Ultegra R8000 Di2. This is not only the second-string groupset but it's also the older 11-speed version that predates the 12-speed R8100 version launched last year. This tells a story of continuing supply issues, but fortunately it fits perfectly with the carbon cage and oversize derailleur pulley wheel upgrade from French brand Nova Ride, which is not compatible with Shimano 12 speed. The Nova system has two aluminium pulleys with 14 and 17 teeth, sealed ceramic bearings and weighs a clamed 68g.
Additionally Ribble told us that continuing to run 11-speed Ultegra means last year's race bikes can easily be raided for compatible emergency spares.
The wheels are Mavic Cosmic SLR 65s, which have a 65mm rim depth and a relatively low weight of 1,550g per pair. Although these, like the majority of modern wheels, are tubeless ready, they’re fitted with 28mm Continental Grand Prix 5000 clinchers and tubes.
The reason for clinchers and not tubeless? Simply because Continental hadn't yet delivered team-issue Grand Prix 5000 S TR in time for the launch. The team will race on tubeless.
The riders will also have access to the shallower (and lighter) Mavic Cosmic SLR 45 wheels.
The Ultra SL R will be the fastest road bike at the Ribble team’s disposal - and possibly up there with the fastest road bikes at any team's disposal - but they will also use the Ribble Endurance SL R and the Ribble Ultra TT throughout the 2022 season, which starts with the UCI Europe Tour (1.2) at Dorpenomloop Rucphen in the Netherlands on March 13.
When Ribble first launched the Ultra SL R last summer, the British brand claimed it was the world’s most aerodynamically advanced road bike - quite a claim from a brand that up until 2018 bought in open-mould carbon frames.
The bike was developed at the Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub wind tunnel with TotalSim, some of the best aerodynamicists in the business. Its headline feature is a unique handlebar that does away with the metal clamp that normally holds shifters on to the bend. Instead, the shifters mount directly, meaning the bar can be a more aerodynamic shape than the usual round profile.
The bar also features aero wake generators, or humps, that the rider is effectively drafting behind.
According to Ribble, the bike and handlebar could supply a 75-second saving over 40km compared to its Endurance SLR aero bike.
The SL R bike represented a huge step in R&D for Ribble, but it kept the prices relatively low compared with similar pro-level aero bikes - the range starts at £3,899.
Andy Smallwood, Ribble Cycles CEO said: “The team had me on the edge of my seat in 2021 with some amazing performances in the UK and abroad - and 2022 is set to be an even more exciting year. The combination of Ribble's R&D and a stronger than ever rider line up sees our Ultra SL R being raced by the leading British based team on the world stage. Our involvement with RWPC allows us to gain essential product feedback and insights into real world racing conditions and will inform our R&D as we continue to develop and innovate in the creation of world-class racing machines. The distinctive aerodynamically optimised lines and new colourway will help the team really standout from the pro peloton".
Team edition colourways will be available on select models including: Ultra SL, Ultra SLR, Ultra Tri, Endurance SL, Endurance SL Disc, Endurance SL R, Endurance SL R Disc, Endurance SL e, Ultra TT frameset.
As well as the Tanfield brothers (above), six more new riders join for 2022 with a total of 16 riders on the squad.
Charlie Tanfield is preparing for a home Commonwealth Games where he lines up on the track for Team England. Meanwhile the Tour Series is a major objective for the team, as defending champions. The British National Championships are another key goal and in September the Ribble team returns to the Tour of Britain, the pinnacle event of its season. Alongside the domestic programme the team will take part in selected European races.
The full team roster is: Stuart Balfour, Will Brown, Finn Crockett, Cameron Jeffers, Richard Jones, Matt King, Zeb Kyffin, Ross Lamb, Ollie Peckover, Alex Peters, Jack Rees, Charlie Tanfield, Harry Tanfield, Jacob Tipper, Red Walters, Simon Wilson.
Ribble Ultra SL R Team Edition specification
- Ribble Ultra SL R
- Ribble Ultra handlebars
- Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset
- Mavic SL R 65 / SL R 45 wheels
- Continental GP5000 clincher tyres, 28mm
- Nova Ride OSPW oversize jockey wheel
- Weight 7.8kg
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