Will Ineos Grenadiers ditch Shimano wheels for the Tour de France time trial?

The Ineos Grenadiers have, once again, opted against using wheels from their equipment sponsor Shimano. This time in the stage 8 time trial at the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Chris Froome, Filippo Ganna and Geraint Thomas were seen using wheels from Princeton Carbonworks, an American company whose front wheel features a unique wave-type leading edge profile instead of the traditional smooth circular shape used by the team's sponsors Shimano and the majority of other brands.

Thomas paired a Princeton Carbonworks Wake 6560 front wheel with what looks to be a sponsor-correct PRO Textreme Tubular Disc rear. However stage winner Ganna went one step further, pairing the same front wheel with what looks to be Princeton's Blur 633 rear disc wheel.

This isn't the first time Ganna and his Ineos teammates have used the wheels though. 

First spotted by the Cyclingnews tech team, Ganna and Dylan van Baarle opted for the Wake 6560 at the 2019 UCI world time trial championships in Yorkshire, and Ganna subsequently used them once again at the Vuelta a San Juan in January of this year.

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An interesting difference of the wheels is that they forego tubular technology in favour of clincher tyres. 

The low rolling resistance of a clincher tyre paired with a latex tube has widely been touted as the faster option, and the technology has been used by numerous riders over recent years, including Tony Martin's 2016 world time trial championships win in Doha, and more recently, Julian Alaphilippe's win on stage 2 of this year's Tour de France.

According to Princeton Carbonworks, the wheels are, in fact, tubeless compatible. However, despite using Continental GP5000 tyres in Yorkshire last year, it was the non-tubeless versions of those tyres that the Ineos riders used, suggesting they were run with inner tubes - most likely latex.

The reason for choosing the wheels is unconfirmed, but given their inclusion for the flat final stage time trial at Tirreno Adriatico, it's likely that the benefits are in aerodynamics and rolling resistance rather than weight.

Tour de France TT equipment choices 

Equipment choice remains a hot topic ahead of the Tour de France stage 20 time trial on Saturday. 

The 36km individual time trial includes the 5.9km ascent to La Planche des Belles Filles, a category one climb that averages 8.5%.

A typical time trial bike is generally much heavier than the UCI's minimum weight limit of 6.8kg, so rumours of road-cum-time-trial Frankenbikes are rife, while suggestions of possible pre-climb bike swaps are also circulating, as happened in Bergen in 2017

It's likely that the Ineos team believe there are performance benefits to be had from the wave type rim design, and the choice of clincher tyres is becoming more widely accepted. 

However, with the mountainous nature of the Tour de France time trial, weight is likely to be the deciding factor. No weight is quoted for the Blur 633 rear wheel, but at 657 grams, the Wake 6560 weighs in at 108g less than the PRO Textreme tubular tri-spoke, and a lighter weight Grit 4540 is available at 430g.

It remains unconfirmed as to whether the team will use the wheels at this year's Tour de France but if the Ineos Grenadiers are planning to complete the stage without a mid-race bike swap, it seems likely that they'll choose the faster, lighter wheels. 

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