Jumbo-Visma’s Bianchi Oltre XR4 frame fitted with rim brakes may be aerodynamic, but at 980 grams for a 55cm-sized frame alone, it’s anything but light by today’s standards. By comparison, the newly launched Trek Emonda and Specialized Tarmac both tip the scales below 700 grams in the same size. Despite the existence of Bianchi’s lightweight Specialissima (claimed 780g for the same size frame), the team committed to the brand’s aero road bike.
If they were to stick with their sponsors’ wheels, they would use the C40 tubular wheels – a lot of riders still are, in fact – which weigh 1384 grams. By tilting, the Ineos Grenadiers are found at 449 grams at the right. Jumbo-Visma sees a smaller gain, with a saving on paper of 114 grams.
So, why choose the lower savings offered by Corima?
Of course, there is a limit to how low teams can go; Once the total weight of the motorcycle reaches the UCI limit of 6.8 kg, there is no benefit to continuing as the mechanics will have to add weights to the motorcycle to make it legal – just like they do for the bike. Giant TCR by Simon Geschke. Assuming that Jumbo-Visma can reach 6.8kg, there is little benefit to choosing the more expensive wheels.
Plus, the wheels aren’t the only component a team can gain weight on. Jumbo-Visma has also avoided the celestial color of its Bianchi bikes in favor of a new “unique paint system”. The reason is, again, the weight. According to Bianchi, this unique paint system is worth 80 grams compared to traditional celestial paint because it “reduces the molecular weight of the coating”.
While most WorldTour bikes now come with disc brakes, there’s no denying that the braking technology weighs more. Through a combination of the groupset itself and the extra strength needed by the carbon fiber frame, disc brakes would add 250 to 300 grams to a bike.
Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma are two of the three remaining teams in the WorldTour who stick with rim brakes for the Tour de France – the other is AG2R La Mondiale.
During the Tour Down Under in January we got acquainted with the 53cm Bianchi Oltre XR4 bike owned by George Bennett and the 56cm Pinarello Dogma F12 X-Light owned by Luke Rowe. Fitted with deeper Shimano C60 tubular wheels (weighing 1496 grams), Bennett’s bike weighed 7.25 kg – 450 grams above the UCI limit.
Losing 80 grams due to the paint and 226 grams with the Corima wheel swap, Bennett’s new weight is 6.94 kg. Teams often leave a little wiggle room to account for scale inaccuracies, but we don’t expect mechanics to stop there in pursuit of the final 194 grams.
With the same Shimano C60 wheels, Luke Rowe’s Pinarello Dogma F12 X-Light weighed less than 7.07kg. Knowing that the Ineos Grenadiers now carry a whole new coat of red and blue paint due to their new name, we can assume the weight has increased a bit, but Bernal’s smaller frame will obviously weigh less upfront. Even so, replacing Rowe’s wheelset with the lightweight Meilensteins would save 561 grams and put his frame at a UCI illegal 6.5kg weight.
Based on these calculations, the Ineos Grenadiers have the upper hand on paper. But weight is only half the power-to-weight equation and the Tour de France isn’t won on paper, it’s won on the road. As to who will come back better from weekend GC battles, only the road will tell.