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By Andrew Juskaitis, VeloNews technical editor
Unless you’ve been vacationing on the dark side of the moon for the past year, you’re probably aware the UCI has mandated the use of helmets for the pro peloton.
While the majority of the 2003 pro road season saw riders with certified skid-lids worn during mass start stages and events, all bets were off for team and individual time trials. For the 2003 season the UCI simply let the time trialists slide when it came to wearing a protective helmet (the millimeter-thin aerodynamic fairings the riders wore don’t offer any protection).
Welcome to 2004
You may have noticed riders no longer wearing aero’ fairings in the early season races, but instead “traditional” non-aero’ helmets. This is in response to the UCI mandate that all helmets in competition offer crash protection. What’s interesting to note (and in classic UCI rule vagueness) is that the UCI doesn’t stipulate which standard the helmets must meet, but instead indicates,
Seeing as how there are more than five worldwide helmet safety standards, this leaves the door pretty open for what constitutes …uhhh… homologation(?), but nonetheless, the swoopy minimal aero’ fairings — like Giro’s Rev IV and Rev V — used in the past are just that-history. Or are they?
I spoke to Giro’s Toshi Corbet who explained that even though its sponsored racers could no longer use helmet fairings in competition, Giro “had big plans up its sleeve for later in the year.”
With understandable vagueness, he explained that, “the most aerodynamic helmet we’ve ever tested, and we’ve tested just about every helmet in existence, is the Giro Rev V fairing. [The Rev V was designed specifically for Lance Armstrong in an agreement between Giro and Armstrong to build the most aerodynamic helmet possible. The project was personally funded by Armstrong, so he was able to hold the rights to the design, which meant only he would ride the Rev V unless he personally gave one to another competitor. Rumor has it that Armstrong gave David Millar one of these highly sought-after fairings in a gesture of good will…and after a few drinks.]
With the Rev V as the high-water mark for aerodynamics, Giro set out to create a helmet which meets its own stringent crash requirements. According to Corbet, “we already achieved that goal. We’ve been able to produce a helmet that has the equal drag coefficient as the Rev V and also meets the American and European crash standards. You won’t see it until the Tour, but believe me, it exists.”
In the meantime, you’ll see Giro-backed racers running standard helmets (Atmos and Pneumo) either bare or with clear shells slipped over them.
As an aside, the UCI rulebook also states:
1.3.031: Elite riders participating in Major Six-Day Races on wooden tracks shall be authorised to wear, at their own risk, leather-strap helmets, except during races behind motor-cycles (“Dernys”) during which the wearing of a hard helmet is mandatory.
“Leather-Strap helmets?” Last time I checked, it was 2004….