UCI bans Aerocoach front hub “fairing” used by Ganna in Giro TT

Remember all that talk of Ineos wheels in the time trial? Well the UCI didn't like them and have moved to ban the end caps on the Aerocoach wheels.

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The Giro d’Italia kicked off almost three weeks ago with a dominant display from Filippo Ganna in the stage one opening time trial. Much talk followed that time trial about the equipment selection of some teams. 

Here at CyclingTips, we looked at Ganna’s Pinarello Bolide and spoke about Ineos and Jumbo-Visma’s wheel choices in both a podcast and an article on why some teams are so dominant in the race against the clock. 

One thing we were particularly interested in was some team’s wheel selections for the opening time trial. Jumbo Visma, Ineos, and others switched out their usual wheel supplier’s offerings and instead turned to more time trial-specific options from the likes of UK-based Aerocoach.

Well, it turns out the UCI didn’t like some of these wheels, including those used by Ganna, and moved to ban Aerocoach’s Aeox Titan and Zephyr wheels following the stage one time trial. More specifically, it was the front hub end cap on the rim brake version of these wheels that the UCI took a particular disliking to. The rest of the wheel was and still is fine.

The Aerocoach front hub features an aero shaped end cap.

The Aeox Titan, as used by Ganna, features a 100mm deep rim with a hidden valve stem. Another of the defining features of the Aerocoach wheel is its ultra-narrow front hub. The UCI now deems the aero shaped end caps on the rim brake Aeox wheel hubs to be a fairing and moved to ban its use in UCI sanctioned events. 

This came to our attention in a new addition to the Aerocoach online store. The recently added “Aeox UCI end caps (rim brake)” listing clearly suggests the existing end caps to be illegal in the eyes of the UCI.

The new UCI legal end caps are a standard round shape.

Aerocoach founder Dr Xavier Disley confirmed to CyclingTips that the UCI had banned the standard aero-shaped Aeox front hub end cap following the stage one time trial. 

“The UCI has deemed the front end caps to be fairings,” Disley explained. “So we have had to design new end caps, which are now available through our online store.”

The Aeox front hub has featured in UCI level time trial and national championship victories since 2018. 

The UCI’s stance and interpretation of fairings is just about as clear as mud. Its “Clarification Guide of the UCI Technical Regulations” refers to fairings but is, as is often the case, open to interpretation. That document reads:

“Any device, added or blended into the structure, that is destined to decrease, or which has the effect of decreasing, resistance to air penetration or artificially to accelerate propulsion, such as a protective screen, fuselage form fairing or the like, shall be prohibited.
A fairing shall be defined as the use or adaptation of a component of the bicycle in such a fashion that it encloses a moving part of the bicycle such as the wheels or the chainset. Therefore it should be possible to pass a rigid card (like a credit card) between the fixed structure and the moving part.
Similarly, the addition of a fairing to cover chainwheels, chains or any other moving part of the bicycle is prohibited.”

The UCI’s clarification document references to the use of fairings

The old, shaped end caps are also clearly structural as the end caps are preload adjusters, feature grub screws, and, if removed, the wheels cannot function. 

Furthermore, other manufacturers utilised similar designs in the past, most notably Zipp, with no intervention from the UCI. 

The UCI’s clarification on the regulations on fairings refers to covering moving parts. Again, depending on interpretation, it is difficult to definitively point to how the Aeox end cap infringes on these rules. It is structural, and it is not covering a moving part.

Perhaps Aerocoach has been caught up in the crossfire between teams pushing the limits of the interpretation of the regulations battling with the UCI trying to enforce their view of the regulations.

Disley did say the extra drag with the new round end caps would create versus the now banned aero shaped end caps was pretty negligible given that Aerocoach had already designed the aero end caps within the UCI 3:1 ratio regulations. So ultimately, this is much ado about nothing.

The UCI legal end caps and the Aeox wheels are both available at aero-coach.co.uk and are perfectly fine for use in any configuration by anyone unrestricted by the UCI.

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