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Small joysticks and quirky toggle switches also appear among the youth: “They imitate the pros, but they have to learn how to race first” |  Cycling

Small joysticks and quirky toggle switches also appear among the youth: “They imitate the pros, but they have to learn how to race first” | Cycling

At De Tribune, José De Cauwer noted that in the Dutch races they are tougher against small handlebars and torsion shifters (brake levers and gears). Spurza investigated and discovered that there are many differences between countries. At UCI they want to put an end to that.

More and more professional riders today are riding with smaller handlebars, where the brake levers are moved inward for an aerodynamic advantage.

By reducing its frontal area and thus increasing the pressure on the bike, riders can progress faster with less energy consumption. Isn’t this the dream of every cyclist?

The pioneer in this field was Jan Willem van Schep, but in the meantime the Dutch skater did the education. Victor Campaerts also won the all-wheel-drive miniature.

Not surprisingly, because the aerodynamic advantage is enormous. If you drive 45 km/h, you gain 2 watts for every extra centimeter.

So if you switch from a standard 42cm handlebar to a 38cm handlebar, you get 7 to 8 watts “for free”.

This feature is so attractive that experiments are already underway with steering wheels measuring just 28cm in length, or saving at least 20W at 45km/h, which is a huge boon.

UCI considers the minimum width of the handlebars

Not everyone likes to see this evolution toward smaller handlebars happen. After all, there are also security risks.

“It’s a very sensitive topic,” says Peter van den Appel, one of the leaders at the UCI.

“It has to do with the position of the switches (transmission device) and the size of the handlebars. The latter is about setting a minimum width for the handlebar.”

“There are a lot of discussions currently going on in the UCI on this topic,” Van den Abel told Sporza of Switzerland. “That discussion will certainly take place in the next committee in June.”

Instead of selling shows with their smaller steering wheel, they must first learn to race.

Rick Dewachette, captain of the junior team

Youth Team Leader: “A junior does not have the same mentoring skills”

For professionals, smaller leashes may still be applicable, but the problem is mainly what to do with the younger ones. “A lot of young riders imitate the behavior of the pros,” says Rick Dewachette, sporting director of junior team Crabbé Toumes-CC Chevigny.

“The more prominent it is among professional cyclists, the more active it is also among young people.”

“In the Netherlands, for example, it is already forbidden to put transformers at right angles to the steering wheel of the youth series, which I also encourage.” But this rule does not exist in Belgium yet.

“We follow UCI regulations here from the junior class,” says UCI Commissioner Guy Dobellary.

Rik Dewachtt is in favor of reducing corner shifters and small handlebars.

“A novice never has the same driving skills as an accomplished professional rider. One rider is actually more agile than the other. The smaller the handlebars, the less control they have on their bike.”

“Instead of selling the show with the narrower steering wheel, they must first learn to race properly with the youngsters,” responds slightly exasperated Dewachtt. “The UCI needs to work faster against this. But it really starts with the professionals. They also have a responsibility to the youth.”

Zonneveld: ‘Usual cycling and the UCI: it’s part of it all’

Thijs Zonneveld, a journalist at Algemeen Dagblad, sees the interest in handlebars and shifters as a reaction to UCI rules that forbid riders to sit on the top tube or get off with the “super flex”.

“A lot of riders try to get that aerodynamic advantage in a different way, which I think makes a lot of sense. It would be a little crazy if you introduced different rules for the pro and for the guys.”

“I think the UCI should put in place much clearer guidelines than it is now tepidly. This has always been an issue in cycling and especially at the UCI.”

“Now it’s up to the federations to make some adjustments and that’s too bad. Either you think about it together to make a clear rule or ban it. Now it’s typical cycling: a little bit of everything. A little bit.”

The dimensions of the handlebars and the position of the adapters are not the only place where there are differences between countries. “In Belgium, for example, we drive with less resistance than in France, for example. This ensures that the mechanics have extra work to get everything in order,” says Rick Dewacht, team leader at Juniors.

“Personally I think we should also be able to ride in the same conditions with the youngsters. This makes it easier to compete in foreign competitions. The UCI must ensure uniformity, otherwise it becomes an cacophony of the rules.”

I think the UCI should have clearer guidelines than the ones that are lacking in enthusiasm. This is always an issue in cycling and especially at the UCI.

Thijs Zonneveld

Van den Appel: “We were very tolerant”

The UCI commissioner, Peter van den Appel, agrees that there should be work on uniformity in the regulations.

“It’s certainly not a good idea for every federation to be allowed to make decisions independently. We’ve been a bit lenient there, but we can’t let that linger any longer.”

“If we don’t do that next year we will have a situation where some of the federations will impose their own national regulations and we will not be able to control that,” he added.

This is why a case study is being done now. It will be presented to the committee in June.

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