The UCI has issued a statement claiming that Speeco, manufacturers of the Aero Breakaway Bar (ABB), was aware that its handlebar contradicted UCI regulations - after a rider was disqualified from the Belgium Tour for using them.
The handlebar, which utilises a unique shape to allow a rider to adopt an aero crouch whilst resting their forearms on the tops, caused a stir when ridden by Beat Cycling Team’s Jan-Willem van Schip in the breakaway on stage three.
The rider - who was involved in the development of the handlebars and finished 35th on the day - was later disqualified, with the governing body stating that the handlebars were not UCI legal.
In a statement, the UCI has said that the bars contravene rule 2.2.015: “…using the forearms as a point of support on the handlebar is prohibited except in time trials”, adding "the manufacturers were informed that the handlebar in its current design contradicted the UCI Regulations."
Innovations manager at the UCI Mick Rogers also told Cycling Weekly that they break 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," since the forearms are being used in this case.
The UCI statement appears to contradict Beat Cycling's surprise at its rider’s disqualification.
Following the decision, Beat Cycling noted: “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."
In a statement released on Saturday, June 12, the UCI noted: “The UCI clarifies that the handlebar in question that led to the disqualification of Mr Van Schip had been presented by its manufacturers to the UCI Equipment Commission earlier in the season.
“The manufacturers were informed that the handlebar in its current design contradicted the UCI Regulations, and the Commission prohibited the use of the handlebar in UCI sanctioned events until further assessments had been conducted.”
The statement added: “Finally, the UCI specifies that since the decision of the UCI Technical Commission, the UCI was never contacted by Beat Cycling regarding this handlebar until stage 3 of the Belgian race.”
At its launch, Cycling Weekly believed that the handlebar was UCI legal. The Speeco website clearly states that it has two versions of its custom extensions - one that is legal (TTX) and one not (TriX), whilst it makes no distinction for its ABB bar.
A photo posted by on
The brand itself posted a picture of the bars on Instagram, with the caption: "The ABB is finally where it belongs, in the breakaway. @jwvanschip is currently piloting it at the front of the @belgiumtour, picking up the intermediate sprint along the way." There has been no update since.
We’ve contacted Speeco for a statement and will add it to this story as it develops.
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Cycling Weekly's Digital Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining the two with a career in cycling journalism.
When not typing or testing, Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Favourite bikes include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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