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Back 2019-06-26

New on ZippCast: Changing Technology in the Pro Peloton

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Photo by Getty Sports

Road bike technology is changing faster than a Tour de France field sprint. Jason Phillips, SRAM (and Zipp’s) tech liaison to the pros, gives the inside scoop of how pros are adopting new technology such at disc brakes and tubeless tires as well as their overall approach to making their machines as fast as possible. Phillips, a native of Australia, also contrasts that with the old school gear he raced with in his days as a pro cyclist.

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Edited Excerpts

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Jason Phillips, director of SRAM Road Sports Marketing, works closely with SRAM and Zipp-sponsored pro cycling teams introducing them to our latest technology. Top, at work with CANYON//SRAM Racing this season. Bottom, racing for Team Coast in the early 2000s. Top Photo by Thomas Maheaux

Are most of the Zipp-sponsored pro teams riding disc brakes?

Jason Phillips: All of our pro teams at the World Tour, men’s and women's, and at the Pro Continental level are on disc, teams like KATUSHA ALPECIN, Canyon SRAM Racing, and Boels-Dolmans. We do still have some teams riding rim brake [in the pro peloton], but I think it’s a temporary thing. I think that disc brake is evolving so quickly that within two years the whole peloton will be on disc.

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CANYON//SRAM Racing was quick to adapt to new road technologies including disc brakes and tubeless tires. Photo by VeloFocus

How would you contrast the benefits between Tubeless with the traditional Tubular wheels and tires?

I think there’s a lot more tubeless in the peloton than most people know. There’s secret testing going on. We’ve been racing this extensively with CANYON//SRAM, and the feedback is super positive. IK really think tubeless is going to come in a lot faster than disc braking did.

I’ve actually be riding tubeless myself… you have the feeling of a tubular but even smoother. Tubular tires are just not the roundest circle and sometimes you might feel a bit of vibration at the valve or something. With tubeless you really notice the difference. It’s super smooth and feels super-fast. I think most riders, the first time they ride it they think, ‘Wow, I don't know why I didn't use this before’. The technology of the tires and the wheels is getting to that point where it’s at that level now.

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Why is the Zipp SL Sprint carbon stem so popular with the pros?

We are supplying extremely famous guys we don't even sponsor because that stem is so popular. The weight-to-stiffness ratio is insane. It’s a sprint stem. The stem doesn't make the bike heavier but it really gives them that super stiff feeling. The -12 degree angle is kind of ideal. It’s really perfect for sprinters.

And do they like the way it looks?

Absolutely! Pro cyclists are really fussy. But something is really cool they may change their position a little bit to have it…. That particular stem, it really fills a massive gap. There’s nothing else really out there like it.

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