Updated: New Campagnolo climbing wheels on Blockhaus

Is this the return of the Hyperon? Campagnolo confirms new wheels in the works.

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The Giro d’Italia’s GC battle finally sparked into life on the stage nine summit finish at Blockhaus. Riders have had one eye on this stage since the largely uneventful climb to Mt Etna on stage four, with most opting to save their legs throughout stages seven and eight ahead of the first big showdown on Sunday. Saving legs is one thing but, as is often the case, many teams try to save some weight for the crucial mountain stages.

Team UAE-Emirates is no different and often reverts back to the rim brake Colnago V3Rs for the high mountain stages, but Blockhaus was different. Team leader João Almeida placed fifth on the mountain top finish, moving up to second overall and did so on a disc brake bike equipped V3Rs. Rather than turn to the rim brake Colnago, UAE appears to have had new lightweight climbing wheels from team sponsor Campagnolo at hand to help weight saving on the disc brake bike.

A noticeable step in the sidewall profile is visible from this angle and not dissimilar to the new DT Swiss rims designed in partnership with aero gurus SwissSide. Note the splash of red on the tyre hot patch.

The UCI minimum weight limit is set at 6.8kg and in the past has forced mechanics to add weights to bikes just to hit that minimum. But with an increasing focus on aerodynamics and the introduction of disc brakes, tubeless setups, and electronic shifting, many teams now struggle just to get down to the 6.8kg minimum. We weighed Tadej Pogačar’s disc brake Colnago V3Rs at 7.4kg on the eve of the Tour of Flanders, some 600g heavier than the reported weight for his rim brake V3Rs. Or in other words, an increase of just less than 1% of total rider and bike combined weight.

Still, 1% is 1%, and with disc brakes and aerodynamics here to stay, every gram is a prisoner for manufacturers and teams continually chasing that 6.8kg limit. Presumably, that’s where these new wheels from Campagnolo come in. While Team UAE-Emirates riders have opted for a mix of Bora Ultra WTO 33, 45, and 60mm deep rims for every stage prior to stage nine, all bar one of the team raced with these unreleased wheels for the most mountainous test yet on stage nine.

With only a Campagnolo decal on show, there is no clear indication as to the new wheel’s identity and while Campagnolo has not yet responded to our request for comment on the new wheels. However, we can spot several interesting features from photos taken during the stage.

The wider rim and new hub are clearly visible in this head-on shot of Davide Formolo ascending the climb to Blockhaus.

Perhaps most obvious is the new rim, which appears entirely different to Campagnolo’s current rim offerings. Campagnolo has retained the internal spoke nipple design from the Bora Ultra WTO improved aerodynamic efficiency, but that’s where the similarities end. The new rims appear slightly deeper than the Bora Ultra WTO 33, which is currently Campag’s lightest disc brake offering at a claimed weight of 1,385g. Our best guess puts these rims at ~35-40mm deep, but it’s the rim shape that is more interesting.

The new rims appear much wider than the current WTO offerings and feature a wide and almost flat sidewall with a notable step-like transition into a U shaped profile closer to the spoke bed. The new rim design is not dissimilar to the DT Swiss’ Aero+ rim profile on its ARC rims which are said to offer more stable handing and improved integration and aerodynamic efficiency with wider tyres.

Notable by its absence is Campagnolo’s long-standing G3 spoke pattern which places twice as many spokes on the drive side of the rear wheel and rotor side of the front wheel in a bid to counteract the asymmetric drivetrain and braking forces. The G3 lacing pattern has appeared on almost all Campagnolo high-end wheel offerings for the past two decades, except for the now-discontinued lightweight Hyperon wheelset. The shift to a more traditional 2-cross and radial spoke pattern could be an attempt to shed some weight and will be music to weight-weenies’ ears.

The hub is also significantly redesigned with a much more uniform shape throughout. That’s a distinct change from the hourglass-like design of the hubs in the Bora WTO and in the newer Bora Ultra WTO wheelsets.

Interestingly, and again in keeping with the weight weenie trend, Team UAE-Emirates appeared to be racing the new wheels with tubular tyres. While it is difficult to be certain with these photos, the team appears to be rolling on the Pirelli P-Zero Race SL tubular tyres. One would assume any new wheelset will also appear with a tubeless, or at least, clincher offering, but the very existence of a tubular option is a shift in trend not just for the wider market but also for Campagnolo specifically. The Italian brand has effectively phased out its tubular offerings since the introduction of the WTO range in 2018. Where once Campag riders had the Bora One, Bora Ultra, and Hyperon Ultra tubular offerings to choose from, Team UAE has had only the so-called “lower-offering” Bora One 50 in recent times. The entire WTO range and the new Shamal Carbon, now a gravel wheel, all feature Campagnolo’s Two-Way Fit clincher and tubeless compatible rims.

Again, it is difficult to tell from the photos available whether the new rims are definitely tubular, UAE could have opted to run a clincher setup. That said, a tubular offering might provide some 100-200g of weight saving compared to a like-for-like tubeless compatible option and so fits with the weight saving objectives here.

With all the signs pointing toward the new wheels being a lightweight almost climbing-specific wheelset, could this be the return of the famous Hyperon name from Campagnolo? Only time will tell, we have reached out to Campagnolo for comment on the new wheels and we will bring you any response if/when we receive it.

Update:

Campagnolo has now responded to our request for comment on the new wheels. Unfortunately, and as expected, exact details are very scarce, but Campag’s product manager Alessandro Pace did confirm the wheels are a Campagnolo prototype production with “new climbing technology” which will hit the market soon.

Interestingly, on the shift away from the G3 spoke pattern, Pace explained that while the G3 patterns a solution developed to maximise power transfer and aerodynamics, the new wheels “are designed with the aim to investigate other areas of performance.” Other areas of performance presumably meaning lower weight.

Potentially good news for tubular fans also. When asked if the new wheels are in fact tubular, Pace could only say “We are testing different solutions in order to include in our offer the most performing wheels in every different scenario.” By no means a confirmation of a forthcoming tubular option, but at least the door is still open.

Campagnolo hopes to make an official announcement on the new wheels “sooner rather than later” once testing is complete.

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