This article originally published on BikeRadar
After a fair bit of hype on Tony Martin's (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) new Specialized time trial-specific clincher tires, disaster struck as the current world champion flatted in both the prologue and the first individual time trial of this year's Tour de France. We asked Specialized tire product manager Wolf vorm Walde to explain the two separate failures.
According to vorm Walde, it wasn't just Martin who rode the new clinchers during the prologue but rather the entire Omega Pharma-QuickStep team. Given the close proximity of the start and finish that day, the team decided it was worthwhile to transfer the limited number of Zipp carbon clinchers from rider to rider.
That being said, Martin's rear tire ultimately suffered a puncture from a piece of glass although in fairness, this likely had more to do with the tire's delicate construction and paper-thin tread depth than the fact that he was running clinchers instead of the usual tubulars.
"This cut would have damaged any tire - no matter if tubular or clincher since the failure is not build specific," said vorm Walde. "Tony also rode a clincher during Sunday's stage on the front [where from what we can tell he did not suffer a flat – Ed.]."
Martin again flatted during Monday's time trial but in this case, vorm Walde says the failure came from within.
"Latex tubes failed on the inside – tires show no damage," he said.
Despite the high-profile missteps, vorm Walde suggests the team and Specialized haven't abandoned the technology although it seems more work needs to be done to ensure there is sufficient durability to accompany the greater speed.
"After looking deeper into it, the failures at the time trial can have different reasons," he said. "We will start a lab endurance test with all components tomorrow. In all fairness we need to see whether we can duplicate the failures to isolate the problem."
Specialized supplied BikeRadar with this image of Martin's punctured prologue tire