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Five things the UCI needs to ban before angled brake levers

There’s some big problems in the sport that need attention (and a few uh, minor ones)

The UCI is banning socks on helmets

UCI officials have started the season off in earnest, making sure brake levers aren’t too tilted – but maybe they should focus their energy on other things? At the Santos Tour Down Under, commissaires have been seen using measuring devices to check the angle of levers on bars.

The UCI’s war on brake levers has officially begun

In November, the governing body expressed its proactive stance toward tackling inventive techniques utilized by cyclists to optimize aerodynamics on their bicycles. To address safety apprehensions, the UCI clarified its rationale for implementing clear-cut regulations concerning the excessive inward tilt of brake levers.

According to the international regulatory body, the notable inclination of levers not only impedes the braking efficiency of riders but also constitutes a modification that surpasses the intended usage of the product.

But there are a few significant things that the UCI might want to focus on, and three, shall we say, less important items.

1. Dangerous conditions

In 2023, there were plenty of sketchy races. In the initial team time trial stage of this year’s Vuelta a España, attempts to have riders cross the finish line during the dusk hours were thwarted by a heavy downpour. Consequently, teams finished the stage under pitch-black conditions. Riders, including Remco Evenepoel, were highly critical of the hazardous conditions.
The Tour Féminin des Pyrénées’ second edition came to an abrupt end in June when the UCI finally intervened to cancel the event. This decision was prompted by the withdrawal of multiple teams citing safety concerns. But why did it even get that far? Shouldn’t the UCI been on that before it went south?

19 UCI rules you might not know about

On June 15, 2023, during stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse, Gino Mäder fell while descending from the highest point of the stage at Albula Pass towards La Punt. His death would spark a bigger conversation about what organizers could do. Although some measures have begun–including safety nets and padding on descents and corners, many believe added pressure is needed to ensure rider safety.

Quinn Simmons of Lidl-Trek recently expressed the view that the UCI is investing time in minor issues like brake levers rather than addressing more significant matters.

“It will have changed no safety at all now that my levers are three centimeters out; it just makes it more uncomfortable for me. But in the end, it’s the new rule, and we have to play along by the rules of our sport,” he said to GCN. “It’s ridiculous how dangerous our sport is and I think it’s actually over the limit, just the sport in general. It’s too dangerous and we need to change things. I think something like this, it’s not really the place that will change so much. It’s the dangerous finishes and the dangerous courses that organizers get away with that causes the crashes.”

2. Fix women’s salaries and TV coverage

This isn’t a ban–but something the UCI needs to do better at. In 2023 The Cyclists’ Alliance (TCA) posted the results of a survey about the primary concerns in women’s professional cycling, with salaries, safety, and live coverage emerging as the top three key areas of focus.

The biggest concern identified by survey respondents was salaries. Presently, only teams within the highest tier of women’s cycling are mandated to provide a minimum salary to their riders.

There have been plenty of issues with women’s racing not being broadcast either. One recent example is how there was no coverage of the 2023 women’s gravel worlds–only the guys got that.

Brace yourselves: Patrick Lefevere has weighed in on women’s cycling again

3. TT helmets in road races, what?

Ineos is testing an aero helmet that covers your ears. Whatever. But now EF Education–EasyPost is now wearing a full-blown TT helmet in road races. Sure, marginal gains are cool. But this just looks exceptionally dumb. Riders on the track already use them in points and scratch races, but enough is enough, OK? Please get rid of it, stat, you guys in Switzerland.

4. Dancing

OK, maybe not ban it, but can we just have a tiny bit less on my Instagram feed? My entire timeline some days is cyclists dancing. I don’t want to go fully Footloose, but can we limit it to maybe once a week?

Nothing personal, Maggie and Sarah, Uncle Matt is just a grumpy guy sometimes.  (Also lol, Dylan.)

5. North Americans using European affectations

Cool, we get it. You live in Europe now. You know that guy that goes to Paris for three days and next thing he’s wearing a beret and saying how terrible American cheese is, and the Brie in France is superior? That person who goes to Rome for a weekend and suddenly blasts you for having a latte after lunch? (“You can only have a milky coffee for breakfast, are you OK?”)

If you’re from, I don’t know, Illinois, please stop saying you went “full gas” and you had “good sensations” (des bonnes sensations, we get it).

Can you guys just say you went “all-out” in post-race interviews? And that your legs felt good, or something?

Honourary mention: Sock length

We can’t blast the UCI without talking about socks. Remember when Annemiek van Vleuten won the road worlds but got fined for her sock length? That was peak Lausanne.

Annemiek van Vleuten won the road worlds but got fined for her sock length

Thank you for coming to my TED talk. Also, get the hell off my lawn.