Jan-Willem van Schip disqualified from Belgium Tour for using aero handlebars

His team said the unique bars had been cleared for use prior to the third stage

Jan-Willem van Schip at the 2021 Belgium Tour stage three
Jan-Willem van Schip (right) at the 2021 Belgium Tour stage three
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jan-Willem van Schip has been thrown out of the Belgium Tour for using the Speeco Aero Breakaway Bar (ABB) during Friday's third stage.

The Dutchman had been in the day's main breakaway, eventually finishing in 35th on the stage which was won by Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) in a sprint to the line. After the race however, Van Schip was informed that he would not be able to continue in into the fourth day having used the unique aero-bar setup, which contravenes UCI technical regulations.

His Beat Cycling team expressed their shock at the disqualification, saying that they had been given no prior warning that the ABBs were not UCI legal and that they had been given permission by the UCI commissaire on site. The managing director of the  Belgium Tour, Christophe Impens, confirmed the bars had been permitted at the race, with the decision to disqualify Van Schip coming from UCI headquarters in Switzerland.

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"Beat Cycling has learned with great surprise of the disqualification of Jan-Willem van Schip in the Baloise Belgium Tour after the third stage," the team said in a statement. 

"The disqualification is based on the ABB handlebar that Jan-Willem used during the stage and which, according to the UCI statement, are allowed.

"We do not understand this decision. Since the launch of the ABB handlebar, we have been discussing this with the UCI. Never the UCI informed us that the handlebar would not be allowed. The UCI has also seen no need to accept the offer of the developer of the ABB handlebar to further investigate the admissibility.

"On the morning before the start of the third stage, we even discussed our intentions to ride with the handlebar with the UCI commissaire on site. Here we got the green light to start with the ABB. The UCI has not made any reservations about this. Beat believes that the disqualification is unjustified and that Jan-Willem van Schip is seriously affected."

The Aero Breakaway Bar by Specco

(Image credit: Specco)

UCI innovations manager, Mick Rogers, confirmed to Cycling Weekly on Friday evening that the bars are in breach of rule 1.3.008, which states: "the only points of support are the following: the feet on the pedals, the hands on the handlebars and the seat on the saddle." 

The unconventional handlebars are designed to provide more forearm support when riding in the ‘aero-hoods’ position, with the elbows bent at 90°. This position has been widely shown to be one of the most aerodynamically efficient, although on a set of conventional handlebars it is quite tough to sustain for long periods.

The ABBs are designed by Dutch company Speeco, who worked with Van Schip to create them. They are available to buy, but will set you back an eye-watering €1,500.

Richard Windsor

Richard began working with Cycling Weekly in 2013 alongside the then web editor, Nigel Wynn. Taking over as digital editor or Cycling Weekly and mbr in 2014, Richard coordinates site content and strategy with the team.