You might be familiar with the Union Cycliste Internationale, the UCI, the governing body for all things cycling. Don’t be fooled by the sexy French name; they are not sexy. They are men in suits.
You need some niche rule-making or a spot of arcane sporting admin? They are the chaps for you. When it comes to describing a thing, devising a rule about it, and fining anyone who breaks it, they are world leading.
Anything sartorial is a speciality. Sock height infringement? Duck-related kit non-compliance issue? No problem. Drinks bottle sharing in a non-designated zone? Hefty fine. Swiss Francs, of course, for…ahem, accounting purposes.
They are ALL OVER that stuff.
Anything bigger – doping, racism, the removal of some finish line furniture at a Polish bike race so dangerous that it has nearly killed a man – not so much. Ok…they got there eventually.
The banning of a couple of riding positions deemed unsafe was in the UCI in-tray this week.
We’re talking, of course, about the ‘super tuck,’ where the rider plonks their arse on the top tube when descending to lower their profile and snaffle some aero gains, and the ‘puppy paws,’ wrists draped across bars, flattening the back like a TT rider, also for aero gains.
Safety-reasons is the rationale. I don’t recall seeing many pros crashing when adopting these positions, but I would accept they are presenting a very copy-able example of pro-style and technique for younger and/or less skilled riders to adopt. It sets a bad example, basically.
Were I pedalling along in the company of an amateur (as I usually am) who was showing off by giving it the full ‘puppy paws’ they would get a wide berth from me. That’s a crash waiting to happen.
Same goes for the ‘super tuck.’ Chris Froome popularised this when descending the Col de Peyrousourde at the 2016 Tour de France, and the ‘frog in a blender’ was born. I recall copycat fail vids all over social media, as wannabee cyclists careened into bushes and over barriers left right and centre and with not a sniff of sympathy from me.
Froome made it look easy.
So I get why the UCI banned these. Also, it’s been quiet lately. Maybe they were itching for a bout of casual rule enforcement and picked out a couple at random. Also, if ‘safety’ was the agenda here, why so long to sort out the death-trap finish straight barriers in Poland?
Just a thought lads.
Clearly these outlawed positions are now fineable, and so riders may be tempted to simply cough up a few Swiss Francs, and take the fine in exchange for a quick descent at a crucial moment. I mean, those long boozy lunches don’t pay for themselves. Those Genevan bank accounts won’t keep themselves topped up.
Perish the thought.
Were it up to me, I would stick to the aesthetic rationale. Why complicate matters? Just treat this like another ‘sock length’ crackdown or a ‘duck related kit compliance’ issue.
The ‘super tuck’ is ugly and undignified, so ban it.
The ‘puppy paws’ looks kinda languid and chilled, so keep it.
The UCI should stick to the trivial and keep morality out of it. Why break a winning formula?
(Top Image: via YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5j2AKgw6rg)
The suits in professional cycling have to be anti-cycling. They do almost everything in their power to absolutely kill the sport. Hey, I have some ideas: let’s make a few stages in grand tours horribly long and monotonous and let’s keep reducing the size of teams and allow teams with massive sponsor budgets to dominate . . . oh yeah, never mind. But hey, at least we can prevent all of those horrific crashes from the super tuck last year.
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Such a strange organisation. They strike me as an old fashioned amateur body charged with running a professional global sport. Just not up to the job
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Well put. Something HAS to change.
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I vaguely see where they are coming from. Very vaguely. They fear a big crash from these positions. (Do we know how Froome crashed in practice? I know he was descending. Was he on the top tube?) But the worry is that amateurs will copy the pros. Um. Okay. I watch Nascar but I don’t go try to drive my car 175 mph and bump draft the guy in front of me. Similarly, I watch the pros changing in and out of rain gear and other clothes while riding along at 20 mph. I’m not trying that either. (And, BTW, that’s as dangerous as puppy paws. When are we banning that?)