Cycling Canada moved to allow the use of disc brakes in road races across the country, with the exception of UCI-sanctioned events. The federation announced Tuesday that its board had approved the braking systems with immediate effect. "Further discussions will take place with the UCI with the hope to obtain an exemption to allow disc brakes for the 2018 Canadian Road Championships," a press release stated.
While disc brakes have been allowed in road races across the border in the USA for years, Canada never approved their use, and as road teams such as Cylance Cycling began to equip themselves exclusively with disc brake framesets they ran into some unexpected troubles crossing into Canada.
Cylance headed up to British Columbia this summer for the annual BC Superweek, a series of criteriums that also includes the UCI 1.2-ranked White Spot-Delta Road Race. The UCI road race is part of the three-day Tour de Delta, and was preceded by two criteriums. Cylance competed in the first day's MK Delta Criterium without incident, but before the next day's Ladner Criterium, they were informed that their disc brakes were illegal and they were not allowed to start on them.
According to Pedalmag, Cylance's Justin Williams borrowed a bike from his female teammate Joelle Numainville and won the race. "They told us on the line we couldn't ride the bike, so it was a little bit of a surprise," Williams said. "She was just so great in letting me use hers, she just pointed to her bike and was like, 'You want it?' and I said, 'Yeah, that'd be great.'"
The UCI has made disc brakes legal in road races on a trial basis for the past two years, but has run into resistance in the WorldTour peloton, with riders expressing concerns about a peloton with mixed braking power and the dangers of sharp disc rotor edges. Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) claimed to have been cut by a rotor at last year's Paris-Roubaix, and Owain Doull (Sky) blamed a deep gash to his shoe on a disc rotor in an incident at the Abu Dhabi Tour this February.
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Cycling Canada acknowledged that the UCI rules are temporary, and that disc brakes could be banned at any time by the international federation, as they were after the Ventoso incident.
"Members should recognize that the UCI is continuing the disc brake trial at the international level and may set specific standards for disc brakes in the future. Brakes not meeting these standards will then, at some point, become illegal," Cycling Canada stated.
"Please be aware that it is also by no means guaranteed that disc brakes will be approved, and if the trial period ends without approval from the UCI, this equipment will then become illegal again and will require us to change this ruling."
As in the pro peloton, the lack of standard sizing on disc brake system parts has meant headaches for companies hoping to provide neutral support to riders with a variety of equipment.
Cycling Canada warned its members that they may not be able to receive neutral support should they choose to race on disc brakes.
"Also, members should recognize that race organizers may not be able to provide the same level of neutral service for disc wheels early into this change," they stated.
In addition, juries at races this year can decide to disallow disc brakes even though the rule is effectively immediately. "If you have disc brakes and go to a jurisdiction that does not allow them or to a race falling under the trial requirement, you will most probably not be permitted to race. We ask that you please check with the race organizers prior to the event."