A speed gel applied to the legs of Lotto-Soudal riders before the time trials at last weeks Critérium du Dauphiné has been banned by the UCI. Cycling’s governing body has banned the use of any gel or cream that is intended to help airflow pass over the bodies of riders.
Lotto-Soudal came third in the Stage 3 team time trial at last weeks Critérium du Dauphiné behind Team Sky and BMC Racing. Some of the team’s riders had applied a special gel on their legs before racing that was intended to improve aerodynamics. Small white dots were visible on the legs of at least four riders. Team staff explained that it had been applied with a spray and its intent was to reduce air resistance on the rider’s legs.
Once the UCI got wind of the cream they launched an investigation and on Monday confirmed it would be prohibited until further notice. The Tour de France features a 35-km TTT that could prove decisive.
The UCI rules state that, “it is forbidden to wear non-essential items of clothing or items designed to influence the performances of a rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider.”
The team have expressed their disappointment in the decision and compared the gel to Team Sky’s dimpled skinsuits that Castelli designed for the team with the expressed purpose of improving aerodynamics in time trials. The skinsuits caused controversy at last years Tour de France but in the end the UCI approved the apparel for competition.
“I received a call from Jean-Christophé Péraud, the UCI materials and equipment manager,” explained team manager Marc Sergeant to Het Nieuwsblad. “He told me that the gel was not allowed. That the UCI would investigate the matter and that the regulations – with the Tour at the door – will be adjusted in the coming weeks.”
Sergent struck a defiant tone commenting that Péraud and the UCI should address Sky’s skinsuits. “I have told Péraud that Sky still races with those skinsuits. Also there are strips on the shoulders and arms worked in to reduce the air resistance at high speed,” Sergent said. “He would also tackle that, but Péraud believes that we should not put anything on the legs with the intention of riding faster. But my question is: is not sunscreen or mud allowed? It is certainly not in the current regulations. “
In addition to being displeased with the outcome of the UCI’s decision, Sergent questioned why they were so quickly able to address the speed gel but Chris Froome’s salbutamol case continues to drag on with the Tour de France looming on the horizon.
“In three days the UCI looks decides speed gel is not allowed, but Froome’s salbutamol file has been dragging since last year’s world championships. I think that’s all a bit strange,” he said. “If we do not get a satisfactory answer, we might still take it to the Tour.”