UCI Suspends Disc Brakes Trial After Roubaix 'Machete' Injury
The Paris-Roubaix continues to make news headlines after the UCI suspends the trial of disc brakes in the pro peloton.
33 year-old Fran Ventoso, the Movistar rider involved in a crash that happened 130 kilometers in to the Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, has released an open letter detailing his experience. Ventoso suffered deep lacerations to his left shin that required surgery which he blamed on a crashed riders disc-brake equipped bike.
Tiedemann Hansen, Head of the UCI’s equipment commission confirmed the suspension was made by the UCI commission after the incident involving Ventoso on the weekend. The Association of Professional Riders (CPA) has been vocal in trying to warn the UCI of the potential risks of disc brakes since their introduction to the pro peloton in January 2016.
In the open letter Ventoso posted on Facebook he says, "Let me take you to 130km into the race: into a cobbled section, a pile-up splits the field, with riders falling everywhere. I’ve got to brake but I can’t avoid crashing against the rider in front of me, who was also trying not to hit the ones ahead."
However Ventoso claims he did not hit the ground at any point, "I didn’t actually fall down: it was only my leg touching the back of his bike. I keep riding. But shortly afterwards, I have a glance at that leg: it doesn’t hurt, there’s not a lot of blood covering it, but I can clearly see part of the periosteum, the membrane or surface that covers my tibia." Read the entire post here.
In Ventoso's recollection he notes there are two teams of eight riders in the peloton with disc brakes making it 16 disc-brake equipped bikes in the race of 198 starters. Those two teams were Lampre-Merida and Direct Energie.
Ventoso refers to another crash that happened only 15 kilometers later in the Forest of Arenberg. It involved Etixx-Quick Step rider Nikolas Maes who suffered a deep laceration to his right knee. Ventoso blames Maes' injuries on disc brakes also, though Road.cc posted a series of photos that disproves Ventoso's theory as there are no team members from Direct Energie or Lampre-Merida involved in the crash. This was also the pile up that involved Orica-GreenEDGE rider Mitch Docker who sustained severe facial injuries.
What some commentators have noted is the fact that Ventoso's injury was sustained on his left leg, which he blames solely on the contact between his leg and a disc brake. But the actual details of how a brake that is mounted on the left-hand side of a bike was able to cause the ragged-edged flesh wound below his knee are unknown. With some commentators on Facebook and other news sites suggesting the injury could have been caused by a cassette.
It may never be known what truely caused Ventoso's injury as there is no other first-hand evidence from the crash. But what some punters are labelling a knee-jerk reaction to the introduction of disc brakes into the pro peloton.
It has been a topic of much discussion recently and the CPA stated it does not want to stand in the way of innovation but rider safety is paramount.
Earlier in the year the CPA also stated it would be conducting a rider census to gather opinions on the use of disc brakes in the pro peloton, however to date there has been no evidence of the findings.
The trial of disc brakes in the pro peloton is reaching its fourth month but prior to this incident there have been no reports of riders being harmed by disc brakes during crashes. The question that is being raised after the fact is if disc brakes have their place in the pro peloton. Up until this point WorldTour teams have been left with the opportunity to trial disc-brake equipped bikes at UCI sanctioned events. But very few have taken up the offer.
The WorldTour teams are more often than not a rolling 'marketing showroom' for brands to introduce their newest products to the cycling world. How big will this impact be on brands that are creating road-specific disc brake frames and when will the UCI review the current circumstances and come to a conclusion?