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      World of Sport

      A Passion for Sport

      Race cars and bikes, golf shoes and stadium seats – Continental technology can be found throughout the world of sport

      The European Football Championship in Germany, the Tour de France, the Olympics: a number of top events will set millions of fans’ hearts racing in the summer of 2024. Spectacular moments, goals and races are the result of passion, ambition and extensive training – the very same principles that push amateur sportspeople around the world to achieve their own personal bests. Continental has long been in the game and is taking many sports disciplines to a higher league with cutting-edge technologies.

      Sport transcends borders, connects people and is diverse and cross-cultural – both at professional and amateur level. All over the world, people participate in sport themselves or support their idols as fans, whether in football, athletics or racing. While the passion to win is a driving force, competitive sport has the power to bridge gaps and bring people together. Even small gestures of fair play turn sportspeople into true champions. In a world full of conflict, the unifying power of sport remains strong. The United Nations emphasizes this with its International Day of Sport, held every year on April 6, when people are invited to celebrate the positive influence of sport on humanitarian and social development.

      Continental a key player in various sports

      Continental identifies with sporting values and brings them to life by actively helping to shape the world of sport and performance. Individual sportspeople and entire teams benefit from the innovative products developed by the technology company’s 200,000 employees across the globe. From high-performance tires for cycling and car racing to soles for running shoes and components for high-speed race cars, Continental is a key player and offers a decisive technological boost in various sports formats.

      Pioneer in cycling from its beginnings to the present day

      Continental has been involved in cycling since the sport’s early beginnings. In 1892, it was the first German company to introduce pneumatic tires for bicycles – a revolution at the time. Soon, the early pioneers of competitive cycling were winning races on these tires and shaping the future of the sport. Postcards celebrated their success and advertising banners bearing the “Continental Tires” lettering were displayed at races. The Tour de France played a particularly important role for the brand. Held for the first time in 1903, the multi-stage race around France rapidly gained popularity. Even then, it thrilled the public like almost no other sporting event. Along the extremely challenging route, the athletes suffer and triumph, play out dramatic stories and, as stage winners, remain unforgotten for decades. Continental fanned the enthusiasm for cycling, making its tire products famous and promoting the sport.

      More than 120 years later, Continental continues to do the same. At the 111th edition of the Tour in 2024, the company will once again be playing the dual role of team equipment supplier and main sponsor. In 2023, some 2 billion people watched on TV and 10 to 12 million spectators were roadside as Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia and eventual winner Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark battled in an epic neck-and-neck race over almost the entire distance. Riding on Continental’s Grand Prix 5000 S Tubeless Ready tires, Pogačar and Britain’s Adam Yates crossed the finish line on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in second and third overall. In total, eight of the 21 stages were won on Continental tires. In 2024, seven Tour teams will be competing on Continental cycling tires: Bahrain Victorious, Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale, Groupama-FDJ, Ineos Grenadiers, Intermarché-Wanty, Movistar Team and UAE Team Emirates.

      As in previous years, the Tour organization’s official escort and supply vehicles will again be driving across France on Continental tires in 2024This year, the Tour escort vehicles will feature the UltraContact NXT. Comprising up to 65 percent renewable, recycled and mass balance-certified materials, it is Continental’s most sustainable production tire to date. The renewable raw materials include resins based on waste materials from the paper and wood industry. The UltraContact NXT has received top EU tire label ratings in the areas of rolling resistance, wet braking and exterior noise. In 2023, the PremiumContact 6 and EcoContact 6 models were used. With any of the tire types, the Tour escorts can be confident of being able to follow the pack or individual breakaways on rain-soaked hairpin mountain bends just as safely as on rapid descents and extended flat stages. 

      Earlier this year, Continental was also the tire supplier for the Giro d’Italia 2024, another iconic cycling race. As one of five main sponsors, the tire manufacturer equipped all the official escort vehicles on the 3,300-kilometer tour of Italy with its AllSeasonContact 2 tires.

      Mountain biking: grip is everything 

      Mountain bike tires have to deliver the same high level of performance as the racing tires used in the Tour de France. This applies to downhill and trail competitions and especially to enduro races – one of the toughest disciplines in mountain biking. The mix of steep climbs, rapid descents and acrobatic maneuvers on root-covered, muddy trails presents extreme challenges for tires. One slip on a loose surface can bring the ride to a sudden end or cost valuable time on the way to the finish line. Maximum grip, control and ground traction are therefore essential – properties that off-road cycling fans will find in Continental’s Gravity range of tires, for example. These offer a variety of tread patterns for every conceivable type of terrain and surface. Thanks to its advanced technologies, Continental offers a broad range of mountain bike tires that provide the right mix of grip, rolling resistance and puncture protection for all scenarios. 

      Strong presence in motorsport

      In the mid-1950s, Continental made big inroads into car racing, building on its early involvement in motorsport (see “Sports history”). The company supplied tires for a variety of race cars and began to promote racing as a whole. In the 1954/55 season, Continental even equipped the first Mercedes Formula 1 cars with tires. 

      Over the years, Continental has remained loyal to car racing. Since the launch of the Extreme E racing series in 2021, the company has been a premium partner and tire supplier for the competition’s fully electric vehicles. As the name suggests, the races are held at remote locations under extremely demanding conditions – on cordoned-off terrain, for example in deserts, in arctic temperatures and at extreme altitudes. Extreme E has heralded a new era in motorsport. In addition to lap times and placings, the main focus is on electrification, lessons for car production, sustainability and equality (see also “Did you know…?”).

      In the series, the race cars drive on CrossContact Extreme E tires to meet the challenges of sand, gravel, mud and ice. This new generation of robust high-performance tires from Continental is made from around 43 percent renewable and recycled raw materials, including silicate from the ashes of rice husks. As with three of its production tires for passenger cars, Continental also uses polyester yarn from recycled plastic bottles. In 2023, Continental equipped all of the 10 Extreme E teams with 30 tires, each containing polyester from around 60 recycled PET bottles. And in 2024, Continental will again be the tire partner for the racing series. The necessary motorsport expertise can also be found in the RSX Motorsports ABS Kit anti-lock braking system from Continental Engineering Services. This is based on Continental’s tried-and-tested MK 100® brake system and has been adapted to the special conditions of race cars and tracks. Whether slick or wet tires, different aerodynamic setups or race tracks, the latest ABS algorithms (ABS3 from Continental) are perfectly suited for changing environmental conditions. The RSX is ideal for both professional and amateur racing drivers thanks to its dynamic support on demanding tracks such as the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The specially developed RSX tool, an interface for fine-tuning the ABS parameters, also contributes to driving enjoyment.

      Running shoes with Continental soles

      Could the same thing that provides first-class grip on the road also work for shoes? This was what the materials experts from Tires and adidas asked themselves back in 2007. Continental has been supplying soles for outdoor, trekking and running shoes ever since. The idea of applying materials expertise in tires to shoe soles proved to be a hit. The adapted compound provides equally good grip on slippery surfaces as the modern rubber compounds in Continental’s premium tires.

      Running shoes with Continental soles can be seen particularly frequently at the annual Hannover Marathon. The company has been involved with this popular running event in its home city for many years. The major sporting event attracts more than 20,000 participants every year. In 2024, these included 1,300 Continental employees competing in the marathon, half-marathon and ten-kilometer disciplines. Incidentally, brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee ran in shoes with Continental soles and rode racing bikes with Continental tires at the highlight of the 2016 athletics season in Rio de Janeiro. Both with success, as they took gold and silver in the triathlon.

      Prominent role on football’s biggest stage

      Football is guaranteed to raise emotions – whether at the evening company team kickabout or as a fan of a professional team. International tournaments like the upcoming Men’s European Football Championship in Germany electrify mass audiences in the stadiums, at big-screen viewings and on TV worldwide. Continental’s role will be displayed prominently using the company’s logo throughout the tournament. Sponsoring football has a long history at Continental. The technology company has been a partner at World Cups and major international tournaments in Africa, Asia and Europe for over 25 years. As a partner of the German Football Association (DFB), Continental has been officially supporting the men’s (senior and under-21) and women’s national teams since 2023. “Continental and the German national team share common values: both have always stood for great passion and excellence,” says Mirco Brodthage, head of Replacement Tires Germany. The perfect one-two combination.

      Perfecting players’ golf swings across Europe

      Continental also offers smart training support for another popular sport played on grass – something Winston Churchill would probably have appreciated. He is famously quoted as saying “Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.” In fact, little is known about the former British prime minister’s actual golfing skills. But one thing is certain, he would no doubt have improved his driving technique with the AI-assisted BAL.ON Smart Kit from Continental. This intelligent training tool consists of a pair of pressure-sensitive golf shoe soles equipped with sensors in combination with a smartphone app. The app evaluates the pressure data from the soles during the entire golf swing and combines it with video recordings of the player. Improvable striking positions are thus made visible and golf enthusiasts can work on their balance, weight transfer and ultimately their entire game.

      Real fan service in the stadium

      Showdown at the sporting event of the year in the USA: on February 3, 2020, the Kansas City Chiefs faced the San Francisco 49ers in the annual NFL Super Bowl. The venue for this exciting duel was Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. What few of the more than 65,000 fans in the packed arena probably knew was that many of them were making themselves comfortable on seats featuring vegan surface materials from Continental. Their cushions are extremely robust, weatherproof and glisten in cool ice blue under the hot Florida sun.

      Elsewhere too, fans cheer on their favorite teams in seats fitted with upholstery materials from Continental. Present in more than 50 large sports stadiums worldwide, mainly in Europe, these ensure that the comfort of the expensive spectator seats at international athletics competitions, soccer and ice hockey matches the performance levels of the professionals in action.

      Sports history – how it all started:

      Continental’s involvement in sport dates back to the end of the 19th century, when the growing popularity of the bicycle in everyday life saw cycling take off as a sport. Numerous events were held on Europe’s roads. Here, Continental advertised with banners and on cycling jerseys. The company promoted both amateur competitions as well as the early stars of the cycling world. From the very early days, Continental sponsored riders in the Tour de France – with great success. Frenchman Lucien Petit-Breton won the Tour on “Continental Pneumatic” tires in 1907 and 1908. Systematic sponsoring developed from there, with the message that cycling is cool, the bikes are fast and if you want to keep up, you need the right tires, gears and brakes.

      Continental then transferred the positive experience it had gained in cycle racing to motorsport. The company knew how to take advantage of the growing enthusiasm for car racing. Early on, advertising banners bearing “Continental Tires” lettering were displayed at races and full-page ads for “Continental Pneumatic” brand tires showing a race car against a stylized alpine backdrop were placed in newspapers. Postcards celebrated races completed successfully “without a single tire failure.” The company thus became a trailblazer in modern sports marketing. To this day, car racing and motorsport continue to play an important role as an advertising medium and driver of technological development for Continental. 

      Did you know…

      … that mixed-gender teams are an integral part of the Extreme E racing series and that Continental has been committed to gender equality since the early days of motorsport? Although most of the cars were driven by men, many women also made sporting history on Continental tires in the early 20th century. Some of the most successful female racing drivers of their time competed with Continental equipment and acted as brand ambassadors for the company, including:

      Hanni Köhler: The motorcycle queen of the 1920s rode her way to 10 world records on Continental tires,for instance in the 1,000-kilometer long-distance race.

      Ines Keil-Folville: This early professional racing driver competed in the 24-hour endurance race held in the Hessian Taunus mountains in 1925. Keil-Folville not only won the race – she was also the only woman to take part.  

      Susanne Koerner: After Koerner completed the 2,000-kilometer route from Berlin to Birmingham on a motorcycle in 1926, the Continental customer and company magazine published her travelogue. In it, the motorcycling pioneer described her battle against the weather and bad roads.

      … that in the late 19th century, Continental produced not only pneumatic tires for bicycles and cars, but also tennis balls? Back then, they were still made of soft rubber, with 20 employees hand-manufacturing 100 units a day at the Hanover-Vahrenwald location. It is not known whether these were flying over the net and green grass during the early Wimbledon tournaments.

      Teamwork Is What Matters

      From mid-June, sports fans will be treated to eight weeks of entertainment, with several major events set to be staged around the world – and Continental is joining in the fun. In both sport and mobility, success happens when individual strengths complement each other.

      The team makes the difference


      (Status: June 2024)