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By Andrew Juskaitis, VeloNews Technical Editor
A new technical edict from cycling’s international governing body has sent professional cyclo-cross racers scrambling for new equipment… and maybe grasping for an explanation.
According to a technical updated posted to USA Cycling’s website, professional cyclo-cross racers will no longer be able to run disc brakes in UCI sanctioned events. According to the report, the ban will take effect on November 1, 2003, forcing riders and sponsors to quickly re-equip bikes.
In some cases, that replacement doesn’t come easily. According to Chris Peck, Cannondale’s director of research and development, “it’s a big problem for us because our sponsored cyclo-cross athletes are running our disc specific ‘cross bike which can only accept disc brakes, the seat stays are too light to accept cantilevers. This means we’re going to have to build six new ‘cross bikes by the November deadline which is possible, but is cutting it kind of close. I can’t understand why the UCI made this decision. It doesn’t make any sense to us here at Cannondale. Were certainly going to try and change the minds of the UCI so we can continue to race the latest technology.”
Calls and e-mails to UCI officials remained unanswered as we posted this article, but manufacturers have eagerly responded to questions about the new rule.
Craig Wright of Redline Bicycles (which recently introduced a disc specific ‘cross bike) responded, “We find this news to be disappointing as we wait to hear the reasons for this ruling. With all the recent improvements in disc brake technology we knew it was just a matter of time before disc brakes ended up on ‘cross bikes. Disc brake work better in adverse conditions. We listened to many riders who wanted discs, and after trying them, felt like they had improved control. We know that discs are not for everyone, we never planned to make our bikes a 100-percent disc, but the UCI’s decision to ban the use of disc brakes seams a little overboard.”
Stu Thorne, owner of cyclocross.com and sponsor of a handful of UCI-competing ‘crossers, said the decision might just be an over-reaction to an influx of largely American technology in solidly European sport.
“I think it’s typical of the UCI to make a decision like this,” Thorne said. “I think they’re just afraid of technical advancement. The Europeans are years off from adopting disc brake technology on ‘cross bikes, so it’s really no surprise that the UCI would want to squash any development of this mostly American-based technology. I think they want to keep the bikes very traditional, which is to say, with cantilever-style brakes. Other than being sticklers for traditionalism, I can’t understand why they’d make such a decision.”
The rule, however, is not in effect for USCF cyclo-cross events that are not on the international calendar, including other non-UCI categories run in conjunction with a UCI-sanctioned event.