After posting a DNF at the World Championships road race in Glasgow, Team SD Worx rider Christine Majerus vented her frustration on social media, concluding "Don't buy Shimano".
Representing Luxembourg at the Glasgow event, the 36-year-old punctured early on in the race, something she says is usually "no big issue". However, she said that the shared team car she was assigned to - which was number 21 in the convoy - was otherwise engaged, and she claims that the Shimano Neutral Service vehicle ignored her request for a replacement wheel.
Neutral Service has been offered by Shimano at professional races since 2001, with the vehicles joining the convoy, carrying spares and equipment which can be used by all teams and riders.
SD Worx riders use SRAM sponsored equipment, so Majerus' anger at the major groupset competitor was aimed at its Neutral Service provision, which she called "ugly blue cars", and not any componentry that she was using in the race.
Competing for her home nation as a team of three - alongside Marie Schreiber and Nina Berton - Majerus raised several contributing factors to her inability to finish, referring to the 210-strong peloton as "(too) huge" and said "that race was done before it even started."
Writing on Instagram, she commented: "Puncturing in the [beginning] of a race normally isn’t a big issue but with a (too) huge peloton, shared team car N21 occupied with a crashed Ukranian rider all at the back and above all Neutral Shimano Car ignoring my [wheel change request], that race was done before it even started."
Other nations had greater strength in the convoy, but she said "no other nation was willing to give me service," though she did add a thank you to Switzerland, noting "at least they considered it."
Turning to the Neutral Service provision, she said: "I always thought that that’s what the ugly blue cars are there for. But apparently they are just there for advertising and adding another 5+ cars to the already too long convoy. Why are you there if you don’t help?"
Clearly disappointed with the outing, she said: "I can live with failing as long as I was able to try... Yesterday just felt [extremely] unfair because I couldn’t even try."
This summer's racing has not been kind to the road and time trial National champion, with "injuries, sickness and bad luck" culminating in what she referred to as a "terrible season".
Left out of the convoy and "only coming back to dropped riders", she rode until she was too far behind the leaders to be allowed to continue.
Concluding her post, Majerus said she felt "sorry for the team and staff members" as well as her coach, "for all the frustrating extra work", and finally her "niece, president of the little fan club." She finished her comment with the words "Don't buy Shimano."
Pointing to the environmental impact of professional racing, Majerus referred to her 10 kilometre outing as having a "terrible carbon footprint."
Asked for comment on the incident, a Shimano spokesperson said: "Shimano prides itself on quality and professional services during all levels of competition. As such, Shimano wishes to clarify that the neutral service car in question strictly adhered to the race convoy rules. The explicit request of the President of UCI’s Commisaires’ Panel that it should remain in position behind the Jury President’s car at all times was followed, should it be required for the race finale."
Shimano's neutral service operates from six key hubs in Europe, and the brand says it "manages to cover the biggest professional road races in the world" - it highlights all three men's Grand Tours, "the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the World Championships, all 5 cycling monuments, all major 1-day spring classics for both women and men as well as many other races on the UCI women’s and men’s calendar." The brand adds: "Shimano also provides Neutral Service in U23 and junior races, on the cycling track as well as in para-cycling races."
In an infographic, it states that Neutral Service attends 560 race days in a year, with 33 cars, eight motorbikes, six material vehicles and 50 drivers plus 51 mechanics. A total of 165 spare bikes range from sizes XS to XL, and the cars give out a reported 10,000 bidons and 2,000 energy bars and gels - presumably, each year - to hungry riders.
Cycling Weekly has contacted Shimano for comment regarding the wheel change for Christine Majerus, and we'll update this story if the brand provides a reply.
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