When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Sam Bennett rode the sprinter’s green jersey into Paris on Sunday, resplendent aboard a matching green Specialized Tarmac SL7, and sealed a hard fought campaign with an emphatic final sprint victory on the famous Champs-Élysées. This was the first time an Irishman has won the green jersey since the Legendary Sean Kelly last pulled it over his shoulders in 1989, and the cheering in Carrick-on-Suir could probably be heard all the way in France.

His victory was a huge one for us, as well, and combined with a trio of stage wins by Bennett, Julian Alaphilippe and Leonard Kamna, along with a few sweet days in yellow that Alaphilippe got to enjoy, it was a dynamic and dramatic Tour for Roval sponsored athletes. We have a lot to celebrate; in each case these victories were won aboard Roval Rapide or Alpinist wheels, using Specialized Turbo clincher tires and Turbo tubes. These are the exact same wheels and tires available to you.

We faced a lot of skepticism from the pundits when we released the tube-type Alpinist and Rapide clincher wheels earlier this year. Our extensive testing had revealed that, at this point of the performance and development continuum, road riders would be best served with a tube type clincher wheel system. For the time being, at least, fully developed tube-type wheel systems deliver the optimal combination of weight, aerodynamic performance, and rolling resistance. Tubular stalwarts felt snubbed, and modern proponents of tubeless clinchers wondered why we were stuck in what seemed to them to be the stone age of tubes. But the numbers don’t lie. And we had a pretty massive pile of them to justify our decision to release these wheels as clinchers, running tubes.

(Click to enlarge chart)

The teams that we sponsor in the Tour De France are free to choose whatever of our wheels and Specialized tires they feel will give them the best chance of success. If they want to run tubulars, we have wheels for that. If they want to run tubeless, we have them covered. For our part, we shared our test data with the teams in order for them to make the most informed choices possible when it comes to making their critical component selections.

In addition to stability, there are three major areas to consider when defining the fastest wheels in the world: weight, drag, and rolling resistance. The aerodynamic performance of Rapide wheels – especially in gusty crosswinds and variable yaw angles -  is allied by exceptional light weight, rendering them a compelling choice for riders seeking true real-world aero advantages. Alpinist wheels are pure lightweight climbers, with strength and durability and comfort that makes them a tough and resilient choice for anyone looking to shed weight and point it skyward.

(Rapide vs Alpinist in Tarmac SL7. Tires: Rapide Air, Turbo Cotton 24c, Turbo Cotton 26c. Shading represents the range with the three tires specified.)

When it came to defining the performance parameters of both these wheelsets, we were guided by two phrases: “real world performance” and “no compromises.” And when it came to uncompromising, no-limits, real world performance, we couldn’t do it with tubulars. Nor could we do it with tubeless. Tubulars have noticeably greater rolling resistance than tubed clinchers. In order to hit the real-world performance and durability targets we set, tubeless would have required more material in the wheels than tubed clinchers, and would have ended up adding weight. Uncompromising Real World Performance was what we were after. And test after test, whether testing for rolling resistance, aerodynamic drag, or strength to weight performance, the tubed clincher kept on proving itself. So, skeptics be damned, that’s what we went with.

Two great wheelsets. Incredible tires, good ol’ tubes. One green jersey, worn for 18 days by two riders (Bennett and Sagan). Multiple stage wins. A hint of yellow. That feels like validation. Come celebrate with us.

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