Jan Ullrich’s winning ride in the World Time Trial was helped by running specially set up tyres, provided by his sponsors Continental. As well as inflating them with nitrogen, which is used by many top road pros, to reduce rolling resistance and make them lighter, the tyres were treated by apparently soaking them in a “special liquid”.
Reported in Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, a US trade magazine, Frank Badel, Continental’s product manager for bicycle tires said “Jan has already used treated tires for the final time trial of the Vuelta where he beat everyone. By soaking the tires in this special liquid we increase the elasticity in the tread rubber. This means that energy created in the rubber from rolling is given back rather than soaked up by the rubber increasing its temperature.”
Apparent drawbacks of the technique are that the tyre increases in weight slightly, due the absorption of the liquid, wear is increased and the effect wears off after a couple of days. None of which (except the weight) affects the outcome of a time trial.