Have I mentioned before that I am not a big fan of the UCI’s draconian restrictions on the design of racing bicycles? Yeah, I know I have mentioned it at least once, but it has been a while so allow me to rant again. According to a New York Times article published yesterday, the UCI “abruptly alerted teams at the start of this season that it intends to clarify and reinterpret its often oblique rules governing bicycle design through increased equipment inspections.” Clarify? Really? That will be a first for these guys.
Yeah, I understand the idea behind the equipment restrictions, but I just don’t agree. All of the pro teams have equipment sponsors who are involved in the sport, not just for marketing reasons, but also to further their product development. Let’s face it; all of the pros are riding pretty nice bikes, so this whole business about fairness doesn’t add up to me. If time trial specific frames, aerobars, disc wheels, etc. are all outlawed for time trials, teams with higher budgets will STILL use wind tunnels to work with their sponsors to design modified road bikes and components for time trialing that work within the limitations of the new restrictions. It will always be a “race between the biggest budgets” as those in favor of the restrictions like to say. The only difference is that, with arbitrary restrictions that outlaw certain technologies, riding positions, etc, the product development benefit will not be as great for the weekend warriors out there who buy those high-end products that trickle down from pro level racing technology.
“Had this charter been around in the early days of cycling we’d have had no derailleur gears and no quick release wheels. Taken to its logical conclusion we should have no MTB suspension forks; no power meters; no composite frames.”
Exactly! So, lets get the pros out there and see who can reach the finish line fastest while hobby horsing along on a vintage boneshaker with wooden wheels. Better yet, let’s scrap the bikes completely and just make those pro cyclists run…barefoot. That would make the grand tours true tests of athleticism and not just races of “technical ability”. Yeah, that is the only way to make it completely fair…we should just rid bike racing of bikes altogether. That would certainly accomplish UCI president Pat McQuaid’s stated goal of bringing “both the sport and the manufacturers back to reality.” Thanks for that reality check, Pat.