Road cycling: MICHELIN makes a big comeback at the Tour de France
Early 2018, MICHELIN signed a two-year technical partnership with the French team Cofidis Solutions Crédits, celebrating its big comeback to top-level cycle road racing and the Tour de France
MICHELIN returns to the Tour de France
With this technical partnership, MICHELIN draws the line under three years away from the Tour de France. Cofidis Solutions Crédits is one of the 22 teams on the starting line of this year’s 105th edition of the major competition.
And this year the Tour de France starts from Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, on Saturday July 7th. The finish on the Champs-Elysées in Paris is scheduled for July 29th, after 21 stages and a total distance of 2,082 miles with 12 stages in the Alps, 4 in the Massif Central and 10 in the Pyrenees.
A technical partnership
Through this collaborative commitment with the Cofidis Solutions Crédits team, MICHELIN is looking to develop innovations that will move its tire ranges forward in the field of road travel.
A technical partnership that mainly consists of supplying tires and tubular tires to the cycling team from the north of France. The team from Lille’s bikes are fitted with the latest prototypes of MICHELIN Power competition tires.
The fruit of MICHELIN's expertise, this range of competition tires brings together all of the Group’s latest technological advances.
To achieve this, teams from the MICHELIN Technology Center in Ladoux (France) worked with particular focus on three decisive performances in professional competitions:
- roll resistance
- puncture resistance
This partnership is an opportunity for MICHELIN and Cofidis Solutions Crédits to work on co-development projects within the context of an extremely demanding sport.
In particular, MICHELIN can use the expertise and feedback from the team’s cyclists from both the test and training sessions and during the different competitions. MICHELIN engineers are working in collaboration with Cofidis Solutions Crédits to provide the team the most advanced technologies that are the best adapted to real racing conditions.
A little history... Cycling, at the origins of the Michelin Group and its commitment to racing
Clermont-Ferrand 1891: a cyclist had problems with one of his tires. He was cycling with English tires glued to the wheel rims and did not know how to repair them. He went to the Michelin factory, already famous for the quality of their rubber products. Brothers Édouard and André Michelin had founded this factory in 1889 to manufacture rubber-based products.
Édouard Michelin repaired the tire in question personally. The intervention took three hours, followed by six hours’ drying time. He then tried the repaired bike and noticed how incredibly comfortable an air-filled tire was. This was the spark that lit the way to the future of this major international company.
Patented cycling comfort
Édouard Michelin immediately saw the immense potential of these tires on the condition of solving an essential problem: the cyclist must be able to quickly and easily repair a damaged tire. Research and tests at Michelin resulted in a patent filed in 1891 for a removable tire.
Paris-Brest-Paris: the first victory
The same year, 1891, Michelin entered its first race and found victory with Charles Terront in the longest cycle race ever organized: 746 miles, Paris-Brest-Paris. After 71 hours and 18 minutes of racing, finishing 9 hours ahead of the next cyclist, Terront demonstrated the advantages of MICHELIN’s removable bike tire.
Alain Delcourt, designer-developer of MICHELIN Route and City competition bike tires and tubular tires
Why did you sign a partnership with the Cofidis Solutions Crédits team?
We wanted to return to racing with a global team, like Cofidis Solutions Crédits. It wasn’t only a commercial initiative to provide tires and tubular tires. We also wanted to have a relationship with a team, the technical directors and the cyclists...to discuss technical aspects with them. Basically, we wanted to capitalize on the technical partnership to develop our future tires.
And how does that happen?
We advise them on the pressure to use to, in particular, optimize roll resistance and therefore improve performance. We give them three versions of the tire. Standard, used throughout the year, robust and high performing on wet surfaces. More developed tires for time trials, on which we have worked hard to minimize roll resistance. And finally for the Paris-Roubaix, we focused on solidity, to avoid punctures and more comfortable riding, with larger tire sections.
And how is it going after six months of racing?
Extremely positive. Initial results are very encouraging. In 2017, Cofidis notched up 13 victories. We’ve already had 17 victories from 8 different cyclists and we’re only half-way through the season. This shows a real osmosis between the team members, the equipment and the tires. Don’t forget that cycling is a mechanical sport where confidence in your machine and tires is fundamental for a good performance.
Why is it so important for MICHELIN to be involved with the Tour de France?
The Tour de France showcases our expertise to the general public. We and Cofidis want to have the best attitude possible on this Tour with the aim of winning at least one stage. The Tour also opens doors to people involved with the World Tour. It’s a genuine forum for networking, signing contracts, building partnerships... Over time, we would like to kit out two or three teams on the world cycling stage.
What does competition cycling represent today for MICHELIN?
It’s our second laboratory. All our tires, competition and road, are tested in Ladoux, but racing is a fantastic laboratory. Thanks to the Cofidis team, our future road tires have already traveled over 186,000 miles in six months, in real road conditions, often extreme. The objective is that the tubular tires developed in the competition environment this year can be released by spring 2019, and tires that concern a broader clientele from 2020.
The team calendar for 2018
Cofidis Solutions Crédits
After the Tour de France, MICHELIN and Cofidis will focus on the Vuelta, the Tour of Spain.
March 4 - 11: Paris - Nice
March 17: Milan - San Remo
March 19 - 25: Tour of Catalonia
April 18: La Flèche Wallonne
April 22: Liège Bastogne Liège
April 8: Paris Roubaix
May 8 - 13: 4 Days of Dunkirk
May 23 - 27: Tour of Belgium
June 3 - 10: Criterium du Dauphiné
July 7 - 29: Tour de France
August 25 - September 16 Vuelta a España