• Owain Doull (2nd R) and Team Sky at the Abu Dhabi Tour. (Getty)Source: Getty
Owain Doull has called for a revision of the UCI’s disc brake trial after his left shoe was cleanly sliced and his foot cut in a crash at the Abu Dhabi Tour on Thursday.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
24 Feb 2017 - 7:57 AM  UPDATED 24 Feb 2017 - 9:38 AM

Sky teammate Peter Kennaugh pointed at the shoe in disbelief at the end of the opening stage, questioning the safety of the trial that was reinstated this year and continues to divide the industry.

Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) has been testing disc brakes and was using them when he and Doull locked handlebars and caused a crash on a corner at the flamme rouge, which also took out Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott).

Doull had returned to his team car with a badly torn jersey and heavy grazes to his side when he realised the impact on his shoe.

“My shoe is cut to pieces and that’s definitely a disc brake which has done that,” he said.

“If anything, I’ve come off lucky there to be honest because if that had been my leg it would have cut straight through it for sure. If you see my shoe, it’s gone straight through that into my foot.”

The disc brake trial was suspended last year after Fran Ventoso was injured badly in a crash at Paris-Roubaix. It has resumed under the proviso rotor edges are fully smoothed to reduce perceived safety risks to riders.

“In my opinion, unless there are covers on those things then they’re pretty lethal,” Doull said. “Unless there is covers on them you shouldn’t use them.”

Riders here in Abu Dhabi responded to the incident on Twitter calling on the UCI to further act.

Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) described the incident as “terrible”.

“Through a few layers of leather. 1 rider with disc today, imagine more had them,” he wrote.

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) also weighed in naming disc brakes “unsafe”.

“I’m a big fan of innovation, of moving forward, of trying new things. But the discs are simply unsafe and not ready for use in a big bunch!” he posted.

Cavendish escapes crash to win in Abu Dhabi
Mark Cavendish has opened his 2017 season account with a stage win at the Abu Dhabi Tour to which he is an ambassador.

Bike manufacturers also have a part to play, pushing their own respective agendas for and against the technology.

Kittel tested the brakes initially at the Dubai Tour after his Quick-Step Floors teammate Tom Boonen delivered the first professional victory on them at the Vuelta a San Juan in January. The German sprinter in Dubai had said he found they improved steering and handling but added further discussion was needed.

“I think the most important point is that we need to find the solution to what they do for the rest of the year,” he said then. “From my point of view, it’s not very smart to let half of the bunch ride on disc brakes and the other half on rim brakes. That might be OK when you have dry conditions, like in Dubai, without rain, but once you are in a downhill there’s an incredible difference between rim brakes and discs when it’s wet.

“The UCI has to take a decision and once that is taken you can also talk about improving the discs with a cage, or something like this.”

The Rio Olympic team pursuit gold medallist Doull has had a rough start to his rookie pro year with Sky. He was meant to make his team debut at the Tour Down Under but days out underwent emergency surgery to remove his appendix at a hospital in Adelaide, Australia.

“It’s not how I pictured it to be honest but it’s all part of bike racing, it’s what you sign up for,” he said.

“My ribs are a bit sore but apart from that I’m pretty good. I’ll be fine for tomorrow and the rest of the week.”