Continental and A.S.O., the organizers of the Tour de France, are looking ahead to this year’s event with optimism. Speaking during a visit to the Continental tyre plant in Korbach, Germany, Christian Kötz, Member of the Executive Board of Continental AG and Head of the Tire division, and Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, underlined the significance of their partnership for what is doubtless the world’s toughest and most famous cycling race. “For us, the Tour de France provides a good platform on which to set out our stall as one of the most technically experienced bicycle tyre manufacturers in the world,” said Kötz. “We have many years’ experience in manufacturing racing tyres for the Tour de France and a long tradition of supplying teams with our tyres. The Tour also helps us to build a bridge between cyclists and drivers and to highlight our commitment to Vision Zero, which targets a world without fatalities, without injuries, and without crashes on our roads. At the Tour we will be urging cyclists and drivers to show more consideration for each other, as well as spotlighting our “Stay Wider of the Rider” campaign.
For his part, Prudhomme said: “The riders and vehicles’ safety on the race route is our priority. For Continental, product quality is the prime objective and good tyres obviously improve safety. We are proud of this partnership that will add incredible technical expertise to the Tour de France.”
Fittingly in the context of cycling and bike racing, throughout the Tour de France Continental will also be working to boost awareness of its corporate goal of sustainability. To this end the company will also be presenting its first ever series of bicycle tyres made from dandelion rubber. The Urban Taraxagum model is an all-rounder for sporty bikes and racing bikes in the popular 35-622 size.
This year Continental will be producing the first limited series of these tyres. The rubber comes from Continental’s research laboratory in Anklam which was opened in December of last year. Here, the tyre manufacturer is conducting further tests on the cultivation and processing of dandelions as an alternative source of rubber to the tropical rubber tree.
This will also apply to the compound known as Black Chili which was originally developed in the two-wheeler sector and is now also used in the production of high-performance tyres for cars. “The Urban Taraxagum with its integrated Vectran breaker is a comfortable sports tyre that breaks with existing conventions in tyre production,” says Thomas Falke, Head of the Two Wheel Business Unit at Continental. “The tyre is developed and manufactured in our R&D center in Korbach. We were already the only manufacturer of bicycle tyres that are ‘handmade in Germany’ and with this new compound we are going one step further in our German activities, because the Taraxagum rubber was harvested in Anklam, in Northeast Germany.” The Urban Taraxagum is available from 2019, in a limited series.
This year, six World Tour teams – Ineos, FDJ, Movistar, Bahrain-Merida, Katusha-Alpecin and Sunweb − will be competing on Competition Pro LTD racing tyres from Continental. Continental will also be equipping the official Tour vehicles with the latest Continental car tyre, the PremiumContact 6, which is manufactured in Sarreguemines, France.
As one of five Main Partners to the event, Continental will enjoy greater visibility throughout the Tour. The Continental logo will appear on the arch above the finish line as well as on the “flamme rouge” arch, one kilometer from the finish. After each stage, a representative of Continental will present the trophy to the stage winner on the podium.