Why has the UCI banned Froome-style descents?

Why has the UCI banned Froome-style descents?

08 Abril 2021

On the 4th of February, the International Cycling Union (UCI) published a list of safety measures for road cycling, of mandatory and strict compliance. Within this list, it banned the descents made popular by the cyclists Christopher Froome and Peter Sagan.

This safety measure has been the most controversial of the whole list. Many professional cyclists, including Chris Froome himself, do not share or understand the reason for this measure.

It is believed that the serious accidents in road cycling last season (2020) have motivated the whole set of safety measures.

What does the 'Froome-style' downhill consist of?

It is a downhill technique, also known as 'supertruck', which consists of resting your pelvis on the upper bar of the bicycle frame, while your chest rests on the handlebars. With this position you get a better aerodynamic performance, obtaining a higher speed (17%, according to some specialists).

Chris Froome immortalized this style by winning the 2016 Tour de France. From then on, the downhill technique became very popular.

The spectacle of cycling, according to different opinions, loses an important attraction with the banning of this technique.

Fabio Jakobsen's accident

On the 5th of August last year (2020), in the finishing area of the Tour of Poland, the Dutch rider Jakobsen had a terrible accident that almost cost him his life, and which still keeps him out of competition.

The videos clearly show the moment when Jakobsen starts to overtake his compatriot Dylan Groenewegen on the right. Groenewegen then swerves off his racing line to cut Jakobsen off and the accident occurs. Jakobsen crashed heavily into the fenders and was seriously injured. For his part, Groenewegen was sanctioned and banned from racing for 9 months.

The cycling world, and the sport in general, must condemn Groenewegen's unsportsmanlike and absolutely unacceptable action.

Geraint Thomas accident

Two months after Jakobsen's accident on the 5th October in the Tour of Italy, the French cyclist Geraint Thomas had a spectacular accident, fortunately without serious consequences.

Again a video makes it clear that the accident was caused by a bottle lying on the track. The rear wheel of the bicycle hit the bottle and Geraint rolled off the track. It really is justifiable to take disciplinary measures in road cycling, to prevent riders from indiscriminately throwing containers anywhere.

Statements by the ACP president

The Italian Gianni Bugno, president of the Association of Professional Cyclists (ACP), is the one who has given the most explanations regarding the ban on 'Froome-style' descents. He explains that road cycling is made more dangerous by this type of practice.

He also states that professional cyclists should set an example to young people regarding the safe use of bicycles. Froome's technique requires very specialized training and any attempt to imitate it in amateur cyclists would lead to serious accidents.

Regarding the aerodynamic virtues of this technique, Bugno says that this is not clearly proven and that he does not believe, given his experience, that this technique is really effective, on the contrary its indiscriminate implementation would bring more insecurity to cycling.

The rules emphasize that there are only three points of support in cycling: the saddle, the pedals and the handlebars. Any change in these points of support leads to unsafe conditions for all cyclists in general.

Measures implemented by the UCI

Apart from the ban on the 'Froome-style' descent, the UCI will ensure that strategic areas will be set up every 30 kilometers to dispose of bottles, food wrappers, etc.

Safety fencing will be installed at finish areas to reduce the possibility of serious injury in the event of accidents.

Safety stewards will be reactivated to monitor compliance with these mandatory regulations. In addition, these safety commissioners will be on the lookout for any unsafe action on the part of the collaborators accompanying the cyclists.

All in all, all the measures will increase safety in road cycling, given the high level of danger involved in this sport. Historically, the list of fatalities and serious accidents in cycling is very long. The accidents described here are only a small part of those that have occurred in recent times.

Why has the UCI banned Froome-style descents? - Papagayo Bike

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