• Bernhard Eisel has deplored the notable absence of a rider union rep at the Dubai Tour where the UCI's Extreme Weather Protocol was applied yesterday (Getty)Source: Getty
Rider safety advocate Bernhard Eisel (Dimension Data) deplored the absence of a CPA rider union representative at the Dubai Tour where organisers applied the UCI's Extreme Weather Protocol that cancelled the penultimate stage yesterday.
Sophie Smith

4 Feb 2017 - 11:48 AM  UPDATED 4 Feb 2017 - 4:37 PM

'Boys United': Dubai Tour stage 4 cancelled
An unofficial meeting of minds within the peloton helped implement an Extreme Weather Protocol and cancel stage four of the Dubai Tour on Friday.

With no CPA (Cyclistes Professionnels Associés) rider union representative at the Dubai Tour, Eisel became the unofficial go-to man in discussions over yesterday's stage cancellation. 

The Dimension Data captain appeared to fill the void between peloton and officials as riders informally deliberated over starting the already truncated race to Hatta Dam in high winds. While expressly happy with the outcome, the Austrian said the CPA's absence was notable. 

“The UCI commissaires, the chief commissaire, blamed us and the sports directors for not having a spokesman before the race that they could go up to and talk to,” Eisel said.

“I take that... it’s CPA’s fault, not my fault, I have nothing to do with that, but it’s right.

"In every race there should be a representative - one sports director from all the teams and one rider - and it just didn’t happen. But still they invited a few riders down and all the sports directors.”

A CPA spokeswoman on Friday confirmed there was no official rider union representative at the extended five-day tour but it was in contact with athletes “to make sure that in case of the Extreme Weather Protocol being applied they could be represented”.

“The CPA thinks it is a very important thing if the Extreme Weather Protocol is applied in every race, and we wish that the rider could always be invited into the Protocol,” the spokeswoman said.

“Until now, we were organised only for the WorldTour and in case of need we asked some riders to be the Extreme Weather Protocol reps. Of course, it will be good if in all the important races, not only the WorldTour, the Protocol would be applied in case of need.”

Eisel, who some riders confusingly thought was the CPA representative in Dubai, revealed he has severed all ties with the union, believing it ineffective “especially with the grey area of Extreme Weather Protocol”.

“It’s still the same question that Extreme Weather Protocol, as long as you don’t make it black and white it’s still grey and that’s why I stopped putting in an effort to help CPA,” Eisel said.

“What comes out of the UCI, when it comes out a grey rule - that’s not a rule … I understand if you have proper rules, Extreme Weather Protocol, then you can explain it to the spectator, to the organiser and to the sponsors.

"It’s like, look, this is millions of Euros of assets the teams are putting on the road and it’s riders, it’s lives. We are the assets, it’s not the bikes, or the team cars, it’s the riders. But I understand the organiser, they’re under pressure and I try to help them.” 

The Extreme Weather Protocol has already been enacted once this year at the opening stage of the Tour Down Under where the mercury exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, making race conditions difficult. There, CPA rider representative Adam Hansen consorted with the bunch and then spoke directly to officials on its behalf during the race that was consequently shortened.

No such order has appeared at the Dubai Tour, where multiple riders, over one spokesman, were seen dropping back to the UCI commissaire car during the third stage asking unsuccessfully for a section of it, which a brief sandstorm hit, to be neutralised.

However, Eisel said he did speak with RCS Sport three days ago about the decisive fourth stage to Hatta Dam, raising the possibility of changing the road race to a short individual time trial in anticipation of the inclement weather.

“The worst thing is to start and the stop, that always looks the worst,” he said.

“Going out there and ‘seeing how it is’ ... you don’t have to go out there! We know how it is … we have seen on the miles we drove out here [to the revised start in Hatta] many times that it was over the edge, and this is what can happen.”

RCS Sport and the Dubai Sports Council were praised by riders for their action on Friday. The Dubai Tour will conclude with a flat stage on Saturday around the city.