It appears the UCI will not rest until the sport is dead in the water technologically, if a recent decision made by the organisation is anything to go by, writes Philip Gomes.
By
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM


The UCI have just banned Bont Crono which would be OK....as long as
you also ban aero helmets surely.....?


NZ trackie Sam Webster


Yes Sam, you would think that but
this is the UCI we're talking about, consistency and transparency have
never been their strong suit.

So what is young Sam Tweeting
about? Well just another example of free-form improvised decision making
by the governing body of cycling - specifically, the summary execution of an
innovative cycling product without a fair trial.

Australian
based cycling footwear manufacturer Bont was informed by
letter
that its newly developed 'Crono' shoe was banned by the UCI
on the basis of a complaint coming out of the March Track World
Championships held in Apeldoorn.

We're left to guess who made the
complaint because the UCI aren't telling Bont. Effectively it's a star
chamber. There are judges but no jury, witnesses and seemingly no right to appeal.
Just, no.

It begs the question. Was the complainant a rival
manufacturer? I'd like to know.

In a wide ranging conversation with Cycling
Central
(in a segment to be seen on SBS ONE, Sunday 5PM AEST) , Bont
CEO Steven Nemeth expressed his frustration in dealing with the UCI, an
organisation that he has enjoyed a happy relationship with in the
past.

His main frustration is as I've oullined at the top, the
seeming uneveness and arbitrary nature of of UCI decision making and
correspondence.

"We've had no warning, no comment on the fact
they were looking at this. All we've had was a letter sent to the
generic email address on our website," said Nemeth.

Unbelievably it appears
the UCI made its decision not only on the basis of an as yet
unidentified complaint but on a reading of the manufacturers website.

In
correspondence that Cycling Central has seen, the UCI stated
"...it is obvious that your Crono shoes are designed to influence the
performances of the rider by reducing air resistance and improving the
aerodynamic effect as you are explaining on your website."

Call
me crazy, but making a product decision based on a website description
may be fine for an EBay purchase but not fine for an organisation tasked
with defining the technical legality of equipment.

The UCI
alleges the shoe falls foul of one of its technical specifications
(article 1.3.033) that states: "It is forbidden to wear non-essential
items of clothing or items designed to influence the performances of a
rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider
(compression, stretching, support)."

Which is odd because just
about every innovative cycling product of the last several decades has
not only been marketed as influencing the performances of a rider but
happily bought by millions who appreciate that fact.

And with
those developments we've seen a corresponding growth of cycling as a
sport and activity. There is no question that technology has been a
driver in bringing new people into cycling at all levels - from the
Pennyfarthing to today's carbon steeds.

It's a truism in cycling
that wind is the enemy of a rider and just about every development in the
history of the sport has been directed toward improving our efficiency
against that beast. So I'm not sure why improving efficiency appears to
be the enemy of the UCI.

I'm betting that if a manufacturer
developed an anti-aerodynamic device, it would quickly be approved by
the UCI because its Taliban approach to technology seems to be based on
making the sport as slow and uninspiring as possible.

However
with this move, and others, it appears the UCI will not rest until the
sport is dead in the water technologically - a bland and un-interesting
activity stifled by the grand burghers of Aigle.

Follow Phil on Twitter @Lycra_Lout