Tom Boonen raced on them at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad yesterday, unperturbed by conjecture that saw his Quick-Step Floors teammate Marcel Kittel revert to rim brakes at the Abu Dhabi Tour on Friday.
Kittel categorically dismissed there was pressure from team sponsors to use disc brakes he has been testing this season, stating it was his own personal choice to trial the available technology. However, Lotto Soudal road captain Hansen, who is the CPA rider union representative at the Abu Dhabi Tour, has speculated there is a correlation between the two riders using them and backer Specialized.
“I do believe - and this is just my opinion - that Specialized is pushing,” Hansen said. “Tom Boonen was against disc brakes last year, now he’s retiring this year and loves them.
“We’ve got bikes where we can have disc brakes, none of us want to use them. The other teams, they all have the option to use them but no-one is. I don’t want to be picking on sponsors or anything, but this is Specialized riders that are using them.”
The 35-year-old has been in discussions with the CPA in the wake of a stage one crash at the Abu Dhabi Tour where Owain Doull (Sky) attributed Kittel’s disc brakes to a slash through his shoe, which reignited debate about the safety of the equipment. Hansen said the topic of liability was raised in discussions with the union, going so far to say it may take serious injury for a perceived risk to rider safety to be reflected in UCI regulations.
“That was topic we were talking about at the CPA, is who becomes liable if an incident does happen” Hansen said. “If you look at it as the riders are saying we’re against it, the UCI allows it and what happens if a rider did have a fatal injury from it? Who is liable for that damage? It can’t be Kittel that’s for sure. But if the UCI deemed it safe and it turns out it wasn’t safe in some sense, to me it seems the UCI is liable for it.
“From the industry side, I do think the bike manufacturers are pushing for it,” he continued. “They have brought it out. I know the fans they want to ride what the pros are riding, we’re not riding disc brakes and all the top line bikes [are] now with disc brakes, so in that sense I do know the manufacturers do want the riders to use disc brakes.”
The CPA has been pushing for the UCI to strengthen its disc brake regulations. The federation reintroduced the trial this year under the proviso rotors were to be fully smoothed. The popular consensus, however, is that more precautionary measures, like cages or protective covers, be mandated.
“It’s not that we don’t want disc brakes, or improvement in bike manufacturing, it’s just put a cover on them and then were all happy,” Hansen said.