In a surprising development, the International Cycling Union (UCI) is set to announce the use of parachutes as a part of its upcoming weather protocol for events.
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7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:35 PM

In a short but lightly reported press release, the world governing body said recently that it would implement a comprehensive system to deal with inclement weather for future events.

A working agreement between stakeholders is expected to be in place in time for the start of the Giro d'Italia, on 9 May.

"The members will convene again in the coming weeks to establish a baseline for the weather criteria (rain, snow, wind, temperature, humidity and visibility) that can be used to determine if a modification is required in the running of a race," the statement said.

But today Cycling Central can reveal that one idea being considered by the working group of commissaires, riders (CPA), teams (AIGCP) and organisers (AIOCC) is the use of safety parachutes on days where the wind conditions may cause riders to forcibly dismount.

On condition of anonymity, a source with close ties to the group said that their hand was forced after witnessing several riders struggle with the gale force conditions seen at Gent-Wevelgem, including Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, who was blown across the road by a gust of wind before tumbling head over heels into the verge as he drove the winning break.



"It was lucky that Thomas was not more seriously injured," said the source. "He could have taken out his breakaway companions.

"So we realised that if riders were equipped with a well designed, unobtrusive and wearable parachute, he would instead have been ejected upward to safety and an even softer landing."

Fresh from a high powered visit to California's Silicon Valley, the always enthusiastic Team Sky boss David Brailsford welcomed the idea as one which could improve the safety of the sport.

"As you know we're always looking for new innovations in training and equipment and this forward thinking by the UCI is one we can definitely get behind," he said.

"We were lucky with G," Brailsford continued. "Something like that would reduce the possibility of serious injury. And I'm confident we can get one of our Jaguar team cars to the landing site and ready with a new bike before a rider touches down.

"In fact we envision a rider actually descending onto the saddle and clipping in in one seamless procedure. It would be yet another marginal gain for the team."

Other teams Cycling Central contacted were more cautious and warned against the possibility of some riders cheating by having sail like properties woven in their clothing in the disguise of a parachute.

"There is a precedent for this kind of cheating," said one. "The UCI regularly investigates the possibility of some teams using hidden motors, though none have yet been found."

The UCI source said that the entire WorldTour peloton would receive training before it was rolled out more widely.

The plan is now in an initial testing phase in conjunction with Swiss Special Forces at a secret site near Aigle, and should be ready in time for the 2016 classics season.






Now it's past midday, Happy April Fool! You're the fool!