Jumbo-Visma will bring tire pressure regulating technology to Paris-Roubaix this weekend.
The team confirmed Saturday that Christophe Laporte, Edoardo Affini, and defending champion Dylan van Baarle will all use the Gravaa KAPS system at the “Hell of the North.”
Jumbo-Visma captain and Roubaix top contender Wout van Aert will not use the new system which insiders believe could be a game changer for the 55km of grueling pavé on tap in Sunday’s monument.
The hub-based tech allows riders to increase and decrease tire pressure as they ride, so benefiting from softer rubber on the cobblestones and harder, faster tires for the pavement.
Jumbo-Visma confirmed Saturday a partnership with Gravaa has been in the works since last year’s edition of Paris-Roubaix.
“We conducted a first test in December 2022 while participating in the Paris-Roubaix reconnaissance. The results were positive,” said Jenco Drost, team equipment chief.
“Although we saw the technical advantages, we also found that KAPS improved the comfort of riding the bike. The riders who used the system had less trouble with their arms after yet another cobbled section.”
Jumbo-Visma is first known to use the Gravaa system in racing last week when Affini played test-subject at Dwars Door Vlaanderen.
The rumors of Jumbo-Visma rolling out the system at Roubaix drew mixed reactions from the peloton. Some pointed to the risk of making large tech tweaks for such a savage race, while others were intrigued at its potential.
Intriguingly, Van Aert trialed the system but opted out of using it Sunday as he continues his cobbled monument quest.
“There is a lot of future in it. I don’t have to explain that to you,” Van Aert said this week. “If you can soften your tires for the cobbles, and then ride hard tires on the asphalt again … But it also adds a little extra weight to the bike. And of course it must work flawlessly.”
Jumbo-Visma confirmed it owns four full KAPS wheelsets, offering Affini, Van Baarle and Laporte the ability to switch wheels Sunday in the event of any mid-race disaster.
The Jumbo-Visma women’s team will not use KAPS for Paris-Roubaix Femmes.
Team DSM also confirmed this week it will also use a pressure-adjusting system at Roubaix. The squad of former Roubaix champion John Degenkolb will use the Scope Atmoz wheelset and its air reservoir-based tubeless setup.
DSM first toyed with using Atmoz ahead of last year’s race before opting out for fear of making such a radical shift for a race as brutal as “The Hell of the North.”
The team stated Wednesday it will now be using the Atmoz both in Roubaix and whenever “they see it advantageous” in the future.
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A system designed to inflate and deflate tyres during competition. After rigorous testing in training and racing, we can’t wait to ride it @parisroubaix on Sunday! #KeepChallenging #ParisRoubaix pic.twitter.com/o3ZJuk5HLJ
— Team DSM (@TeamDSM) April 5, 2023
Gravaa’s KAPS (“kinetic air pressure system”) allows tire pressure to be tweaked on the fly via a pump in the hub that is controlled via a Bluetooth unit on the handlebar.
In theory, it will allow Jumbo-Visma’s racers to run regular tire pressures through the fast tarmac of Roubaix’s opening 100km before softening their setups for better control and comfort over the stones.
Until now, riders have used recon rides to either dial a mid-point pressure or go all-in with rubber as soft as 3 or 4 bar.
“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.
Both the Gravaa KAPS and Scope Atmoz have been approved by the UCI.
The next hurdles these new systems face are the cobblestones of the Arenberg, Mons-en-Pévèle, and Carrefour de l’Arbre.