Chris Froome: Disc brake debate shows riders are not being heard

Tour de France winner calls on CPA and UCI to improve rider safety

Tour de France winner Chris Froome has called on the CPA riders association and the UCI to resolve the safety concerns over disc brakes in the peloton. Froome was speaking after his Team Sky  teammate Owain Doull claimed that he was lucky to escape serious injury in a fall at the Abu Dhabi Tour. The Welshman believed that the disc rotor on Marcel Kittel’s Quick-Step Floors Specialized bike slashed open one of his shoes, and that the blade could have caused a serious injury.

"If a hot blade like that cuts an artery then a rider could be in big trouble," Froome told Cyclingnews. "I hope that we don't get to that point before we stop and take stock."

The CPA and the UCI are currently at loggerheads over the use of disc brakes, with the riders association last week calling for the current test – which involves mixed braking systems in the same peloton – to be immediately halted. A survey it conducted in November showed that 40 per cent of riders were against disc brakes, while another 42 per cent were unhappy until three conditions – rounded discs, protective covers and a homogenous peloton – are met. 

The UCI, which re-started the trial this season with rounded discs the only modification, has staunchly refused the request to end the trial, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the CPA's survey and highlighting that the CPA agreed with the original decision to restart the trial.

"The issue over disc brakes is really down to what the CPA are doing and how they've not represented the peloton's views properly," Froome told Cyclingnews.

Froome pointed to the timing of the CPA's actions, questioning why the union had taken until the winter before canvasing rider opinions on the subject, but he also questioned the UCI's role, believing that the sport's governing body should have met the riders' concerns over disc brake covers. At present, covers are not mandatory and the issue is only in a research and development phase.

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"All riders were given the opportunity to vote but only at the end of November once the CPA had already agreed to the trial going ahead on our behalf," Froome pointed out.

"The results of the vote being 16 per cent yes, 41 per cent no and 42 per cent if conditions were met, which they haven't been, I'm amazed the trial was allowed to go ahead.

"I'm personally not against the disc brake trial, but I would expect a certain level of safety measures to be put in place first.

"These measures have already been put forward. Namely, protective covers and rounded disc edges. It would seem that this has not been implemented, although I hear Marcel Kittel is riding with the rounded discs.

"It's up to the UCI to step in and take control because it feels to me like the riders are not being properly represented, and the voices of the majority of riders aren't being heard. I hope that the UCI will intervene and introduce measures that make the disc brake trial safer."

Froome boiled the matter down to the fact that confusion currently reigns, and that the health and safety of the riders was at stake while bodies, manufacturers and teams play politics.

"The problem is that there are a number of question marks hanging over the whole topic," he said. "As long as there are safety issues regarding the use of discs, the trial should be suspended until those have been addressed.

"There are also questions over the compatibility of wheels with and without discs. Neutral service is challenging at the best of times without the added complication of having some riders using them and some not. Not to mention the discrepancy of braking efficiency in the wet between riders who have, and riders who don't have discs.

"As far as the CPA's role in this, it's a matter of 'too little too late' for truly looking out for the riders safely, something which should be at the top of their list.

"Currently 100 per cent of the peloton pays 2 per cent of all prize money to the CPA. However the CPA only allows eight nations, who have their own rider associations, to vote on decisions that need to be made. The rest of the peloton doesn't get a say.," Froome said. "The rest don't get a say. The CPA has a lot of work to do still before we can trust that they are putting the peloton's interest first. There's currently a big discontent. " 

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