The queen stage of the 2012 Tour de France found the riders deep in the Pyrenees, en route to a finish in the sleepy French town of Bagneres-de-Luchon. Four major climbs (two of which are beyond categorization) comprise the legendary Circle of Death: the Col d'Aubisque, the Col du Tourmalet, the Col d'Aspin, and the Col de Peyresourde.
Together, they combine for a total of over 6800 meters of vertical suffering. In the end, it was Thomas Voeckler of Team Europecar with a gutsy solo victory that also netted him the polka-dot jersey for the remainder of the Tour. For this unequivocally brutal stage, Voeckler's Colnago C59 was equipped with Campagnolo's lightest and fastest-rolling climbing wheel: the Hyperon Ultra Two Tubular Wheelset.
The Hyperon Ultra Two is the second generation design of Campagnolo's highest-end clincher wheel. Of greatest note is the change here to Campy's Ceramic Ultimate Level Technology (CULT) ball bearings. These CULT bearings are unlike other ceramic bearings that require specialized grease formulations for lubrication. Instead, CULT bearings use oil, which minimizes drag, and it has the additional upside of making maintenance far easier. And Campagnolo goes further with drag-reduction by housing these bearings in a low-friction technopolymer cage, then pairing them to super-hard Cronitect races. Not only are these bearings remarkable for their low friction, but they're 200 times more resistant to corrosion than stainless steel bearings.
As we all know, what goes up must invariably come down. Voeckler's victory on stage 16 didn't take place at the mountaintop, but rather far below, in Luchon. To ensure rider safety on such screamer descents, Campagnolo has also engineered the Hyperon Ultra Two to withstand a greater degree of brake-induced heat. In addition to the wheels' improved heat dissipation, the Hyperon also makes use of a new Campy brake pad which increases braking modulation by 40% on wet surfaces, and 20% on dry roads, without increasing the degree of wear on the pad.
The low-profile design of the Hyperon Ultra Two clincher rims minimize inertia and guarantee comfort during long races. The front rim is 21mm deep and the rear rim is 23mm deep. The rear wheel is built in a differential fashion -- its spoking pattern is engineered to improve lateral stiffness and the transmission of power while reducing the disparity in spoke tension between the drive and non-drive side spokes. The aero black stainless steel spokes (22 front, 24 rear) have a differential cross-section that varies according to specific load. They are fitted to the rim by means of the special Campagnolo system of self-locking nuts and plates with spherical couplings that ensure that the spoke strength isn't compromised under torsional loads. They come with Campagnolo wheelbags, skewers, a lockring, and brake pads. Please note that the braking surface requires the use of Campagnolo brake pads designed exclusively for this tubular wheelset. Make sure to install them!