Team Sky's Dave Brailsford has pushed back against suggestions that the current UCI rules surrounding the final 3 kilometres of racing should be altered. The Sky boss, speaking at the Tour de France, where his captain Chris Froome is searching for a third title, said that while safety of riders is a concern, those concerned or looking for change should "grow up" and that the fight for position "goes with the territory."
The 3km rule is applied to all fast, flat finishes but waived if there is a climb to the line. It means that if a rider is caught up in a crash, has a mechanical, or is affected by a split of such nature, he or she is given the same time as the winner. Under current rules, riders who are not delayed and simply lose contact risk losing time. The rule is there to protect riders who have GC ambitions and for the overall safety of the race.
During the Tour, however, riders have called for the rule to change due to the frantic nature of the racing, with several GC teams crowding the front in order to keep their leaders safe and in contact with the head of the race if there is a split. Sky has been tied to this criticism as one, but not the only, of the teams mixing it with the sprinters' trains.
However Brailsford pushed back, telling Cyclingnews and The Telegraph, that, "I don't see it as an argument. It's a bike race, grow up everybody. You come here to race a bike. Some guys want to stay safe on GC, some guys want to do the sprint. It goes with the territory, get over it."
Brailsford qualified those comments by adding that safety was a concern and that protecting riders should always be considered. However for him, the extension of the distance within the rule to four or five kilometres would only cause a new set of problem, rather than solve the issue as it currently stands.
"I think there are certain occasions when you could [look a changing the rule - ed.] actually, in the interest of the race. What you don't want to do is lose a GC rider to a racing incident, basically, and let the sprinters get on with it. I can see the logic of bringing in maybe 4K or 5K rule and GC times taken there and then the stage would be played out after that but if you make that rule then other arguments will pop up.
"In general, in a race as long as this you want your key players in the race and the differences to be made with the legs or tactics and not with a crash. Safety is something I'd look after because everybody wants to see the big guys in the last couple of days."
In a recent interview with Cyclingnews, Bernhard Eisel said in relation to a hectic race on stage 2 that, "We saw the new version of modern stage racing and it's just getting ridiculous. I had to fight riders to get to the front to ride yesterday.
"It seems that people are actually happy to ride in the final just so their captain can get sixth and stay upright. If a sponsor puts in 20 million Euro and then is happy that their captain just makes it to the finish each day, rather than the team trying to win the stage, then it's getting ridiculous."