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Road Racing

Spotted: Continental has a new tubeless GP5000 and it’s everywhere at Roubaix

We first spotted a new tyre on Ganna's TT bike, now we're seeing it everywhere at the Worlds road race, Roubaix, and team's twitter.

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Just last week, we reported on what appeared to be a new tyre from Continental. Filippo Ganna used what appeared to be a new tubeless Grand Prix 5000 with a tan sidewall for the time trial World Championships. A few days later, at the road race World Championships we spotted several riders, including Ineos riders Tom Pidcock, Luke Rowe, Michal Kwiatkowski, and British champion Ben Swift, riding what seems to be an all-black version of that same tyre. This time, the mechanics didn’t black out the branding on the sidewall, meaning the “Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR” label was clearly visible. That “S TR” branding all but confirms this is a new tyre, but the question remains as to what updates this new tyre offers.

Continental is staying tight-lipped on any updates or even the existence of a new tyre but it seems the tyre might be something special. Paris Roubaix is considered the last true stronghold for tubulars in road cycling. However, based on the recon rides today and yesterday, almost every team on Continental tyres, right down to every individual rider, is seemingly making the switch to the new tubeless tyre for this weekend’s Hell of North.

So far we spotted Groupama-FDJ, Ineos Grenadiers, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, Movistar, and Bahrain-Victorious all aboard the new tyres. From what we have seen during Roubaix recon, most riders are running a 30mm wide tyre up front, paired to a 32mm on the rear.

The teams are basically teasing us with these new tyres.

S What? 

That tubeless tan/transparent sidewall caught our attention last week, but the new branding on an all-black tyre this week is the first sign this tyre will offer some update on the GP5000. From what I can see, the tread pattern on this seemingly new tyre is identical to that on the current GP5000 tyre, so any differences likely lie within the compound and construction. 

That “S” branding is not new for Continental. The German brand launched the Grand Prix 5000 back in 2018, replacing the GP4000 range, one of the most popular tyres on the market for more than a decade. However, before that, Continental introduced an update to its GP4000 with a tyre said to provide improved grip and decreased rolling resistance, the GP4000 S II. This suggests the “S” in this new GP 5000 S TR is a clue that the new tyre is an updated, even faster version of the 5000 we know.

In the past three years, we have seen the Ineos Grenadiers swap to Lightweight wheels for climbing stagesignore the call of Big Disc to stick with rim brakes, and stick religiously to tubular tyres, mostly to get the weight of their Pinarello Dogmas down to the UCI 6.8kg weight limit

For a team so focused on bike weight, and having at least partially switched to disc brakes, the fact many of the Ineos riders at the “Worlds” choose the new tubeless tyre is perhaps an indication of its weight-saving potential. 

One of the pre-worlds favourites, Tom Pidcock, finished sixth on a disc brake Dogma F with the new GP 5000 S TR tyres on a course with significant vertical gain. Of course, the Ineos riders may also know of some phenomenal decrease in rolling resistance, which is influencing tyre selection. Furthermore, the weight saving in a tyre is likely minimal and perhaps nullified by the increased weight of a tubeless rim compared to that of a tubular rim. Still, experience tells us Ineos are sometimes happy to forgo marginal gains in return for weight savings, so this tyre and wheel set-up is unlikely to add much additional weight to the team bikes.

One thing for certain, weight will not be a critical factor on the roads and cobbles between Compiegne and Roubaix. Grip, puncture resistance, and rolling resistance are much more important. Compared to the 28mm Competition ProLTd tubulars we’ve seen Conti teams run in the last edition of Paris-Roubaix, the 30 and 32mm options available with the new tyre might be the biggest motivators for the change for this weekend. That extra width should provide extra grip and roll the stones better. Had the new tyres only appeared for Roubaix we could be confident the added width was the major factor here, but having seen them at both the TT and road race worlds suggests these are more than a one-trick pony.

TR Who? 

This one might be a little easier. One would assume the TR is an abbreviation of Tubeless Ready. “No big deal” I hear you say, “the current GP 5000 TL is already a tubeless option from Continental”. However, the GP 5000 TL is only compatible with hooked rims. Looking closely at the S TR tyres, Continental has both “Hooked Max” and “Hookless Max” tyre pressure stamps on the tyre. Those stamps, plus the fact Movistar have the new tyre on its hookless Zipp 303 Firecrests, confirms the new tyre must be hookless compatible. 

The GP 5000 S TR certainly seems like a finished product, with complete branding and at least two colour options. With recons done and race day coming up this weekend, it will be interesting to see if the teams stick with their new tubeless setups or if some revert back to tubular. Regardless of what happens on race day, the sheer number of riders testing tubeless setups this week is an indicator of where tyre trends are headed. I overheard one manufacturer representative discussing how all riders will ride tubeless for all races soon. Whether this was Roubaix sector bar stool talk or a true sign of what to expect, only time will tell.

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