A power and politics edition below with on-board bike cams and the weight limits, handling data on TV, politics in France and Italy, snails, beetroot and more…
UCI tweaks weight rules
The UCI has changed rule 1.3.024 to allow on-board bike cameras and telemetry boxes to be considered part of the bike. This implies that the camera and mounting bracket can now be added to lightweight bike to achieve the 6.8kg minimum weight. It’s conditional on it being “non-removable” meaning the camera has to fixed to the bike much in the same way the stem or a bottle cage is. Crucially it means there’s no weight penalty for a rider tasked with a camera for the day, if a team has a light bike that needed to have weights added to make the 6.8kg minimum weight now the camera or telemetry box can be bolted on to help achieve this. There’s still going to a small aero penalty. How long until wind-tunnel tested aero cameras?
Tour de Suisse data
The weight penalty matters for the mountainous Tour de Suisse. Here we’ll see live data transmission and apparently there will be an app out too so you can have your TV with Swiss scenery and your phone downloading data. It’s a technical achievement but not a first, the broadcast of live power data goes back as far as the 1980s. Surely the big test isn’t beaming the stats but their use and interpretation? Most of the TV audience aren’t cyclists, let alone use heart rate or power data. It means only a subset of the audience knows what’s what with the wattages. So it’ll be interesting to see how the data are communicated and the education work involved.
Where are the politicians?
From exercising with power to the exercise of power. One staple of many big bike races is the queue of politicians looking to join in, whether the Tour de France (pictured) or the Tour of Flanders. But the Giro? Nobody came as Italian website cyclingpro.it mentions. The King visited in the Netherlands but once in Italy there was nobody. Instead there were just a slew of tweets once Nibali had won, for example Italian premier Matteo Renzi:
Mamma mia, lo Squalo! Grande Vincenzo Nibali. L’Italia è orgogliosa di te #giro2016
— Matteo Renzi (@matteorenzi) May 28, 2016
This feels like jumping on a bandwagon once it’s arrived. Readers may be delighted to have an event free from politicians but it speaks to the race’s stance as an institution and a popular fixture. Hopefully the 100th edition next year attracts more.
Is there a bigger sponsor of cycling than Škoda? The “Škoda Tour of Luxembourg” is on this week and the VW group’s brand supply vehicles and sponsorship for range of races from the Tour de France down across Europe. Fitting as the Czech manufacturer began as a bicycle maker. They’re one of those sponsors who back the sport but won’t touch a team, they pulled out plans to back the Swiss Pro Conti Team Roth over the winter. When people think “who is the most powerful person in cycling” surely the Škoda marketing manager has to be near the top of the list for the money they drop on the sport. It also shows the audience demographic for cycling in continental Europe, vs Lexus cars at the Tour of California or Maserati in the UK, a topic covered before in A Tale of Two Cars.
Talking of cars and politics, readers have asked if it’ll be ok to visit the Tour de France given news of fuel shortages and transport strikes. The images of strikes and fuel shortages are dramatic but, like the floods currently afflicting France, local. Just this morning an air transport strike has been called off. The stoppages are part of a ritual negotiation process and like the floods it should all be gone by July. If not, bring your bike.
Vegni’s sore point
Who knows if Giro race director Mauro Vegni wants more politicians? One thing he does want is more riders finishing rather than pulling out saying they’ve got to prep for the Tour de France. In an interview with La Gazzetta Dello Sport he said he could never have dreamed of such a finish of the race with the Italian national champion winning and the suspense of the final weekend. Asked if he had any negatives it was the exodus of riders from the Giro to prepare for the Tour de France and he’s written to UCI President Brian Cookson asking for something to be done. But what can be done? Already there’s a rule (2.6.026) that says if you quit a stage race you cannot normally resume racing again until that stage race is over but Vegni seems to want more. This is difficult and could encourage a sprinter or his team to pull out citing, say, a vague “knee injury” or “fatigue” rather than being straight with people.
So far lots of serious stuff so a few random and lighter things:
- Philippe Gilbert has announced he’s leaving BMC Racing after five years with the team. He’ll announce his new team for 2017 on or around 1 August when the UCI transfer window officially opens. Astana have been mentioned but it’s another of those musical chair games and could depend on where Sagan goes, the two overlap for some uphill finishes but equally could dovetail from the cobbled classics into the Ardennes. Gilbert turns 34 soon and wants to win the Tour of Flanders some day too so this complicates things
- The Giro has a Fairplay Classification. Teams get points for bad behaviour, ranging from 0.5 points for a fine to 2,000 points for a positive doping case. The squad with the least points on the day wins a prize and there’s a GC. Lotto-Jumbo, Lampre-Merida and Team Sky and Nippo-Fantini all had zero points and the Dutch team won the prize. Katusha were last, sunk by their odd exclusion of Alexey Tsatevich
- The fairplay prize is a nice idea that should be extended to other events and other misdemeanours like littering could be included
- Enjoyed The Cycling Podcast’s coverage of the Giro? Their Giro theme was “Cozze Piccinne“, a song from the south. The literal translation is “small mussels” but the real meaning is snails. Yes, it’s about eating snails, a traditional dish in the rural south and with some useful nutritional benefits for athletes too
- Eat beetroot or take derivative beetroot supplements? Sick of it? Try rucola/rocket/arugula or whatever is the local name for the peppery salad leaf that’s also very rich in nitrates. A lot of the process behind any performance gains happens in your mouth with bacteria and saliva glands. More here
- The post-Tour criterium at Lacq has been cancelled. Are these exhibition races on their way out? It’s only one event that’s been scratched but there’s a sense these events aren’t what they used to be: a way for the public to see the stars of the sport up close. TV and social media deliver proximity by proxy now
Giveaway competition winner
Finally Ben Pitman won the Art of The Jersey Book giveaway competition. Only the book can’t be given away until the winner gets in touch, send in an email.