Paris-Roubaix has long brought forth strange bike configurations as riders and teams struggle to balance the various and often conflicting equipment demands of the Hell of the North. Aerodynamics are important for the 260km race, but deep aero wheels and aero frames are often stiffer and thus less comfortable on the horrendously rough cobblestones. There is a similar balance with tires — what is the fastest and most reliable set-up for an event where a fat, wide tire would be best for the cobble sectors but a narrower, higher-pressure tire would be best for the majority of the course?
This year, Sonny Colbrelli raced an aero bike with deep aero wheels and wide tubeless tires to victory. While tubeless tires have certainly been used before at Roubaix, the 2021 edition represents a clear leap forward in both the large number of teams and riders that choose to go tubeless and the fact that Colbrelli won using them. This is the first time to our knowledge that tubeless tires — the new Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR, to be specific — have been used to win Paris-Roubaix.
Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the bikes of Colbrelli, Florian Vermeersch, and Mathieu van der Poel.
Sonny Colbrelli raced a Merida Reacto Team aero bike with deep Vision Metron tubeless wheels to the win at Paris-Roubaix.
In recent years, Paris-Roubaix organizers have set up a podium for the bikes as well as the riders.
Van der Poel wasn’t exactly concerned about bending his derailleur hanger after giving it his all in Paris-Roubaix.
Van der Poel raced a Canyon Aeroad but with a standard stem and bar instead of the stock integrated cockpit.
Van der Poel famously broke the handlebars on his integrated cockpit earlier this year. Using a standard bar arguably provides a more secure grip when riding on the tops, as many riders do on the cobbles.
Mat Hayman was the first rider to win Paris-Roubaix on an aero bike, in 2016 on a Scott Addict. Now they are more common at the front of the race.
Van der Poel raced deep Dura-Ace wheels with Vittoria Corsa tires, a common tire in the peloton in both tubeless and tubular.
Florian Vermeersch piloted a Ridley Noah Fast Disc.
Ridley has designed its Fenix endurance bike for rough roads, and there are none rougher than the cobbled lanes of Paris-Roubaix. But Vermeersch choose the Noah aero bike.
This was Vermeersch’s first attempt at Paris-Roubaix. Not too shabby.
Vermeersch’s Noah Fast over the cobbles.
Colbrelli was also racing his first Roubaix. His Merida Reacto Team did not let him down.
This is the first time to our knowledge that tubeless tires have been used to win Paris-Roubaix.
While Merida is advertising the new Reacto Team with the new 12-speed Shimano Dura-Ace, Colbrelli and the rest of the peloton are still on the 11-speed version.
Colbrelli comes off the velodrome to celebrate.
The podium bikes of the 2021 Paris-Roubaix.