The Secret Pro: Supertucks and the coming season

The Secret Pro is back with, among other things, his thoughts on the UCI's supertuck ban.

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Here we are again. A new season! New opportunities and a new me that will surely write a weekly column here. The racing season is about to hit the ground running … and then possibly hit the wall. Either way, the governing body of our sport will make sure that the important stuff is taken care of, right? Even if they don’t, at the very least we have a well-organised union that will keep us safe, healthy and represent our interests.

What a grand life it would be if all of those statements up there could be true. Alas, a boy can dream.

Unfortunately, some races have been already cancelled, and others postponed. The usual peloton bookies are taking bets: which races are going down next. Seems like the month of May might be interesting as all the races want to be slotted into that spot. Apparently, COVID goes on spring break or something.

Even the (arguably) biggest race of the year also is still in question, the Olympics. Will we have to pack trainers and ride for two weeks in hotel quarantine once we get to Japan? Will TDF riders be able to go? Is it even going to happen? Maybe we’ll just go to Florida instead. I’ve never been to Florida.

I’ll share with you what I’ve got down. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am, but know that I’m probably right:

  • €20 on some races still getting cancelled, largely in France and Holland, but most going ahead. I’m optimistic about Belgium (as long as the snow melts) and Italy. Paris-Nice is looking unlikely – I heard less than 50/50.
  • A crisp €20 note on the Tour going ahead on its original dates.
  • The Olympics are going to happen, so I hear. But with no fans. My source is good on this one.
  • I’ve got a fiver on May not being as busy as it might seem right now.
  • €10 in Dogecoin. Which is now €5. [UPDATE: It’s now €15]

Let’s talk about those new UCI rules

OK. We need to talk about this. My take here might surprise you.

I think everyone gets a laugh about the new safety rules that the UCI has implemented. Is it just me or are they mostly concerned with the way we, the riders, act? And not with the way they act? Or organisers act?

Seems like the UCI again is just picking on the weakest link. There’s way more important stuff to get sorted than riders supertucking, so it just makes me laugh. But as funny as the rules are, the reaction of some riders is even funnier. Honestly, who cares that you can’t put your forearms on the handlebar. I’m not Tony Martin or Tim Wellens (there’s two riders you can knock off your “Who is the Secret Pro?” bingo card), and I think we have bigger issues to deal with. So seeing my fellows so up in arms on the social medias was real entertaining.

Will I still supertuck? I haven’t done it much in the past, and I won’t going forward. But I think others might. If you’re solo off the front with a few seconds to spare, a fine would have to be pretty big before it’s not worth it. Winning is the best way to get paid.

That said, I am actually fairly happy that the UCI has stepped in on a few of these. The peloton as a whole is kinda split on the issue.

I honestly wouldn’t be opposed to having some gear restrictions too. I think a 54-tooth is a big enough chainring for the RR and maybe a 58 in the TTs. This would help lower the speeds in some stupid false-flat downhill finishes or just non-technical descents. Which would just make it less dangerous. Spin to win!

To me, it seems pretty stupid to put your forearms on the bars when riding in front of the peloton. All that needs to happen is you don’t notice a tiny rock/small bump in the road while going all out with your head down and a bunch of riders behind you will go down with you. Along with most of your team, presumably, as they’ll probably be right behind you.

If everyone could be sensible we wouldn’t need rules like this, but sometimes I think that all these COVID tests probably take our brain cells away along with the snot. There’s a reason why there are speed limits on roads. If everyone could drive according to the traffic and according to what their skill level is there’d be no reason to have speed limits. But in the name of the greater good we do have rules that protect us from ourselves.

Wait. Didn’t the press release say that the UCI consulted with us riders for all these new measures? Oh, they did, but you forgot we are “represented” by the CPA. #wearetheriders or more like #wesaresomeoftheriderssomeofthetime. I think I’ve talked enough trash about them over the years, and they actually have done some good (like the extreme weather protocol and joint agreement benefits), but let’s just say I am happy there is a new option out there now too.

The Riders Union is still in very early stages and the first meeting is yet to happen, but even before the first meeting I have received more information from them than from the CPA in all of 2019.

Safety is a nebulous thing. So much depends on the chances we take, but much also depends on how well we are protected by the courses we ride and the way races are organised. A lot of the moves just don’t make that much sense. Remember how nine-man teams at the Grand Tours were unsafe? Turns out they were unsafe because of a very small fraction of riders. In 2017 we had 22 teams of nine = 198 riders. And this was unsafe. Then this year, with the addition of one extra wild card, we will have 23 teams of 8 riders = 184 riders.

Thank goodness we don’t have those 14 riders – bad apples, the lot of them. It’s proof to me that there are forces at play here that are considered by those in charge to be far more important than our safety.

Cycling’s shortest season preview

After you and your friends have made bets on which races are still to get cancelled, here’s what you should look for when racing is back on TV.

How will AG2R do in the Classics? They really have upped their game here with GVA, Jungles and co., so they should be a team to watch. They’re going to be very good this spring.

Will Pogacar keep his cool as well as stellar results? Or is the weight on his shoulders going to slow him down on the uphills? I think he’s pretty chill and he’ll be fine. And by fine I mean still really, really fast.

Keep an eye on Ineos too. Will they actually race aggressively? Besseges was a good sign. Or was that just smoke and they are too good at riding tempo and will quickly go back to the old ways? I think the Tour will tell. The hiring of Steve Cummings as a director is a really good sign for more interesting racing from them.

Another interesting rider to watch will be Jai Hindley, and not just because we’re all wondering if DSM will actually be able to hang onto him. I think he’ll show himself at Paris-Nice.

Oh, and don’t expect me to write a weekly column. I’m busy in search of some Zwift sponsors and trying to get my hands on some vaccines.

‘Till next time.


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