HANOVER, Germany — Continental A.G. has taken its corporate sustainability goal to the place where the rubber meets the road.
As one of five main partners for the Tour de France bicycle race, Continental is highlighting its success of using dandelion rubber as alternative source of natural rubber in tires. In doing so, the company will roll out its first series of bicycle tires made the material, which was developed in its research laboratory in Anklam, Germany.
The Urban Taraxagum bicycle tire is practical for sporty bikes and racing bikes, Continental said. It will produce a limited series of the tires in a 35-622 size.
"The Urban Taraxagum, with its integrated Vectran breaker, is a comfortable sports tire that breaks with existing conventions in tire production," Thomas Falke, head of Continental's TwoWheel Business Unit, said.
"The tire is developed and manufactured in our R&D center in Korbach. We were already the only manufacturer of bicycle tires 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."
As a main partner with the Tour de France, the Continental logo will be visibile throughout the tour and will appear on the "flamme rouge" arch 1 kilometer from the finish of each stage, as well as the arch at the end of the race.
At the end of each stage of the race, a Continental representative will be present on the podium to present the stage winner with a trophy.
Meanwhile, six of the World Tour teams — Ineos, FDJ, Movistar, Bahrain-Merida, Katusha-Alpecin and Sunweb — will compete on Continental's Competition Pro LTD racing tires. The German tire maker also will equip official Tour de France vehicles with PremiumContact6 tires, which are produced at a plant in Sarreguemines, France.
"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 tire manufacturers in the world," Christian Koetz, a Continental executive board member, said.
"We have many years experience in manufacturing racing tires for the Tour de France and a long tradition of supplying teams with our tires."
In addition to this, Continental is using the Tour de France platform as a way to expand its "Stay Wider of the Rider" campaign, which urges bicyclists and motorists to show courtesy toward one another in the aim of safety.