In a move which appears to be designed to directly address the use of the luxury motorhome pioneered by Team Sky during the Giro d’Italia, the UCI’s management committee has voted to block the use of any form of alternative accommodation during stage races.
The UCI issued a press release Friday evening stating that its management committee had voted to amend article 2.2.010 of the UCI Regulations, clarifying the issue of rider accommodation.
“In all road stage races on the international calendar, the organisers must cover the subsistence expenses of the teams from the night before the start to the final day,” it stated. “Riders must stay in the hotels provided by the organiser throughout the entire duration of the race”.
Explaining the ruling, the UCI said that the decision “was made in order to reaffirm absolute fairness between all riders,” and that it would come into force immediately.
Team Sky’s Richie Porte used a luxury motorhome during the Italian race, with the team explaining that he sought to gain an edge by being able to stay in the same conditions every night.
While Porte withdrew from the race due to injury, Team Principal Dave Brailsford spoke about it afterwards and said that Chris Froome would likely use it during the Tour de France.
He explained the thinking to Sky Sports News HQ. “Obviously, this was a trial. What we do in cycling is we race 21 days on the trot, most riders share a twin room, they pack and unpack every night in hotels the race organisers allocate to us.
“The quality of sleeping is massively important in terms of a component of recovery. In the Tour de France you finish a stage then you travel to a hotel then travel back to the stage start the next morning.”
He said that the team had calculated how much time it would save if the rider using the vehicle didn’t have to travel. “It worked out nearly a day, about 21 to 22 hours on our team bus. Instead you can sleep in the same bed and create a better environment for recovery.
“So we asked Richie if he was willing to be the guinea pig. Obviously there are pros and cons. You don’t want someone to isolate themselves from the group dynamic. But with nine riders in the team, normally one rider – the leader of the team – has his own room anyway.”
Team Sky has long used what it terms a ‘marginal gains’ philosophy; looking for a range of small improvements which it says can add up to give a significant performance advantage.
The motorhome is one of the most recent versions of that drive.
Brailsford said the team were interested in the quality of sleep and how that impacted on recovery. He also said the team wanted to see how a regular routine might be of benefit.
“There were certain challenges but there were more positive than negatives. It is still very much at a trial stage whether we use it in the Tour de France but it is more likely than not.”
Friday’s announcement appears to have closed the door to that.
Team Sky has not yet responded to the news. However Froome has indicated discontent with the ruling via Twitter.
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) June 19, 2015