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GHENT, Belgium (VN) — Jumbo-Visma’s men’s team could be bringing an adjustable tire pressure system to the gruesome pavé of Paris-Roubaix.
The team renowned for its pioneering approach to nutrition, training, and tech put Edoardo Affini atop the Gravaa KAPS system Wednesday at Dwars door Vlaanderen in a test run for possible use at “The Hell of the North.”
The KAPS (“kinetic air pressure system”) technology is a hub-based system that allows tire pressure to be adjusted on the move with a wireless unit on the handlebar.
In theory, it could allow racers like Wout van Aert and Dylan van Baarle to benefit from both the tarmac speed of harder tires and the cobblestone comfort of softer rubber as Jumbo-Visma hunts elusive victory in Roubaix next month.
“Considering the complete Paris-Roubaix course, our KAPS technology can give a power advantage of about 20W overall, and a peak power advantage of about 60W, by simply adjusting the tire pressure to the surface while riding,” Gravaa recently claimed after it completed a batch of testing.
Italian powerhouse Affini was seen racing a Cervélo rocking the distinctive KAPS pressure hose and valve laced to some Reserve carbon wheel rims in Wednesday’s Tour of Flanders appetizer race.
Affini’s feedback could determine if the tire-regulating tech is rolled onto the whole of Jumbo-Visma’s bikes for Paris-Roubaix on April 9.
— Janus (@JVerlaeckt) March 29, 2023
“Today we tested with Affini whether it makes sense to use this system in the race,” team boss Richard Plugge told VeloNews after the race Wednesday. “It’s an interesting test case. I haven’t talked with him yet. He pulled out of the race after the Trieu and rode on to Ghent to finish his training ride.”
Jumbo-Visma already got its latest new gain approved by the UCI in anticipation of it making a mass monument debut in the coming weeks.
“We provided all the information and received the go. They can look at it again if they want to. Maybe other teams asked them to do so,” Plugge said. “That’s alright. They can see everything,”
Tire pressure has long been a tricky topic for any Paris-Roubaix racer.
Endless recon rides and data analysis sees teams tinkering with their tires to find the optimal balance of speed over the first 100km of tarmac and pliability for the infamous stones of the Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle, and Carrefour de l’Arbre.
Most opt for pressures as low and slow as 4 bar in anticipation of the bruising 55km of cobblestones that determine Roubaix racers’ fate.
Team DSM caused a stir when it revealed it would use a system similar to KAPS at Paris-Roubaix last year, only to eventually revert back to a traditional setup.
Will adjustable tire pressures finally shake Paris-Roubaix next Sunday?
Jumbo-Visma representatives told VeloNews that additional information will be available this weekend after testing and feedback.