It’s not neccessarily your fault but still.
Post the U23 Worlds there seems to have been a huge amount of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth from Pros saying “Well everyone drafts the cars, so please let me massage my conscience for a minute to make it seem as if it’s okay”. It really doesn’t matter if the nicest guy in the Peloton gets back on using a draft. It’s still against the rules. So lets set the rules out fairly clearly, here they are from the UCI Website. (PDF Download Here)
So lets get a couple of cards on the table, I’ve DS’d, I’ve rode races (the latter not in a while, kids eh?) I’ve been on both sides of doing this. I’ve been the one sheltering, I’ve been the one shouting at the driver to close up to the car in front so I can jump across, I’ve been the one shouting at the driver “Steady Trapper, for f**ks sake”. I’ve also been that guy in the drivers seat, one eye glued to the rear view mirror, the other eye watching speedo, wing mirror and the road ahead, sweating bullets to make sure you don’t have a rider come in that back window. I remember on the first day of the Rás, the first rider to sit on my bumper was Russ Downing, as I was moving up to feed the riders, me absolutely bricking it to get up and get my job done, but also to give Russ a good chance to get back up through the cars.
Any good DS that doesn’t help his own team, or others out, in this scenario isn’t a good DS.
With all those cards laid out on the table, how do I still see this as cheating ? Simple the rules as defined above deem that it is. The UCI Regulations on everything are not designed to give anyone clarity but mainly to put a veil of decency over what happens and they like to seem in control.
In Nils’s case, it was such a prolonged time behind the car before he was even in the cavalcade that it really warranted detailed attention. The only thing mitigating in his favour was that in my own experience when you have the prescene of a Commisare on a motorbike, they will normally warn you when they feel you are breaching the tolerance for fairness.
Instead of wringing the hands, and oh sure look everyone does it, how *can we all be cheating*, Professional Cycling needs to put it’s own house in order. And sadly this is where it all falls apart, an invisible CPA, a UCI that doesn’t really care and riders divided, you can be sure nothing will change. We’ve been down this road before, actually we are always down this road, the usual sign posts occur, someone threatening to sue, the UCI hiding behind something and the rest of the world still turning. And nothing changes.
We’ve moved passed the era of Armstrong, Ullrich and the super charged doping, the UCI, the CPA, they have no super baddies to fight, but like any relationship, the hard work is the grind. Riders need to pull the finger out and put the CPA to the sword, or do the decent thing and join the Cyclist’s Alliance. No amount of David Millar throwing shapes is going to change anything. What’s needed is actual change.
Sadly in the case of Nils or Larry the problem is there is no Referee’s Whistle, there’s no pause in play, there’s no second chances. Riders, and the CPA need to stop pissing about and actually start making meanful changes to the sport now, before it’s too late.