Zipp News

Back 2.13.2014

Victory at 56.8 km/hour average speed on Firecrest

Tom Boonen of Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Pro Cycling described Wednesday’s Tour of Qatar Stage 4, which he won in a sprint finish over German André Greipel, as “one of the fastest races of my life."
Indeed. The average speed of Stage 4 was a 56.8 km/hour (35.3 mph) with the first hour of racing covered at an incredible 58.9 km/h (36.6 mph). The British site reported that the 135 km race, covered in 2:22:34 could claim to be the fast pro bike race in history. Strong tailwinds and cross-tailwinds pushed the riders and grouped them into echelons.
Boonen’s winning wheel choice was like the racing, aggressive and fast… A 58mm-deep Zipp 404 Firecrest front wheel paired with an 82mm-deep 808 Firecrest wheel on the rear of his Specialized.
“At those speeds it makes no sense to ride anything less than the deepest, aero profile rims that are on the truck,” said Michael Hall, head of advanced development at Zipp. “Shape versus depth, in conditions like that aero stability cannot be overlooked. Tom understands that a stable platform allows him to ride deeper rims in windy conditions is a strategic advantage.”
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Pro Cycling takes wheel selection seriously. Part of the team’s switch to using the 404 Firecrest Carbon Clincher as a primary training wheel this season was to get riders used to riding deeper wheels and to get them thinking about wheel selection based for specific races. Rolf Aldag, sport and development manager at Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, takes a very technical approach that helps provide the best opportunities to win through Zipp's technologies. 
During the design process for Firecrest, we at Zipp realized that the advanced mathematics and massive computing power that helped us create a faster wheel could also help reduce the impact of crosswinds on handling. Using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, we’ve discovered subtle variations in rim shape that improve stability without increasing aerodynamic drag. By moving the center of pressure – the focal point of side forces on the rim – to its optimal location near the steering axis, Firecrest offers stable, predictable handling at every wind angle.
In Thursday’s Stage 5 of the Tour of Qatar, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step successfully defended the race leader’s jersey of Niki Terpstra. The race ends Friday.

Photo: © Tim de Waele