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Gilbert appeals to Cookson for easing in number and difficulty of races

By:
Jono Lovelock
Published:
October 12, 2013, 2:22 BST,
Updated:
October 12, 2013, 6:47 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, October 12, 2013
All smiles for Philippe Gilbert (BMC) as he awaits the start of stage 15 at the Vuelta

All smiles for Philippe Gilbert (BMC) as he awaits the start of stage 15 at the Vuelta

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Current calendar is "all a bit much, if not wrong."

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has issued a statement on his website addressing race organisers and the UCI saying that "there is a clear discrepancy between what the riders are able to manage and what is presented to us." Gilbert referenced the snow of Milan-San Remo and the extreme heat of the Tour of California whereby fans "were urged to stay put at home and not to make unnecessary journeys."

But riders on the other hand, "were urged to be offering the spectacle the audience was expecting from us, despite the clear and apparent risks to the health of an entire peloton."

Gilbert's statement comes shortly after the recent airing of the UCI's proposals to reform professional cycling. With plans to shorten the racing calendar, decrease the number of days raced at WorldTour level and reduce the length of non-Grand Tour stage races, the UCI's manifesto is sure to be met with approval from the former World Champion.

Gilbert also addressed his own personal season thanking fans, and specifically journalists, for criticising him and in turn providing him "with an additional source of motivation to sacrifice even more and train even harder."

Gilbert's message to the UCI

I would also like to address race organisers and the UCI. I hope the new UCI President is open to feelings that currently live among the riders. That alone would be quite a change, as well as a major step forward for the riders.

The way road cycling seasons are organised right now, the number of races and their levels of difficulty, it is all a bit much, if not wrong. All organisers want to have the race with most height difference, the longest climb, the steepest climb, the longest race... In short, their aim is to have something out of the ordinary for their own race so as to distinguish themselves from the others.

In a time where we all want to do away with doping more than ever before, there is a clear discrepancy between what the riders are able to manage and what is presented to us during races.

This year, I participated in races under extreme weather conditions. During Milan-San Remo we suffered severe snow storms and in the Tour of California we had to endure temperatures of up to 50 degrees. For both these races, fans were urged to stay put at home and not to make unnecessary journeys. We, however, were urged to be offering the spectacle the audience was expecting from us, despite the clear and apparent risks to the health of an entire peloton. This is clearly too much, and it shows that through various associations within cycling, no clear vision, let alone appropriate pro-active intervention, has emerged so far.

And then I did not even mention the lengthy transfer journeys during stage races. These journeys go at the expense of the rest and recovery so desperately needed. Therefore, my question is rather simple: do we really need all those extreme circumstances? Does it not suffice already that riders simply go all out and themselves provide spectacle for all cycling enthusiasts?


 

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