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Track technology disparity UCI's latest target

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 29, 2010, 14:39 BST,
Updated:
March 29, 2010, 6:09 BST
Edition:
Track Cycling News & Racing Round-up, Monday, March 29, 2010
Race:
UCI Track World Championships
British rider Bradley Wiggins winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics on his 'stealth' machine.

British rider Bradley Wiggins winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics on his 'stealth' machine.

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McQuaid 'guarantees' level playing field at London Games

UCI President Pat McQuaid has warned national cycling federations from Britain, Australia and Germany that the sport's governing body disapproves of 'illegal' advances in technology used to secure their place at the top of the international track cycling tree.

Speaking at the recent UCI Track World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, McQuaid told reporters: "It has become apparent to the UCI that over the past few years it [technology in track cycling] has got a little bit out of control."

According to the AFP news agency, McQuaid believes it's a matter of parity in the lead up to the London Olympics, with the home nation one of the leaders in developing new machines that are superior in weight, material strength and aerodynamics.

"We sometimes have teams riding on prototypes (bikes) that are costing 50,000 if not in the hundreds of thousands of pounds to develop. That works against the Olympic Charter, it's against UCI rules and it's against the sprit of fair play," said McQuaid.

"I've written to all the federations and reminded them that any bikes they use must be within the rules as they're laid down."

Winning the war on technology...

It's a battle McQuaid and the UCI will likely find difficult to police, with development of cutting edge equipment standard procedure since at least 2004, when Sarah Ulmer broke the women's 3,000m individual pursuit record at the Athens Olympics. She rode an Avanti-branded bike, which in fact was developed in a laboratory with the support of yacht builders who worked on New Zealand's America's Cup-winning entry Black Magic, taking advantage of the latest in composite materials and design.

For some time the Great Britain squad rode on frames branded 'Dolan', the bicycle company of British builder Terry Dolan. In fact the bikes were constructed using technology seen in Formula 1, and as the Beijing Games approached, the stakes were raised higher in the team's quest for technogical perfection to the point where the head of cycling's governing body has taken a stand.

McQuaid is concerned with the fact that nations such as Australia, Great Britain and Germany use equipment which "is not commercially available", although the track frames used by some members of the Australian squad, manufactured by local company Bicycle Technologies, are available to purchase by consumers.

"There are three countries involved, Britain, Germany and Australia and they are incidentally the three strongest countries in track cycling," said McQuaid.

The issue of technology in track cycling has long been a thorn in the side of cycling's governing body, with the likes of Graeme O'Bree raising the UCI's ire and its subsequent banning of the 'Superman' position he developed.

While the current generation of track cyclists goes beyond mere riding position and into the realm of motor racing technology, the issue of parity hasn't been raised until recently - it's believed to have come with the dominance shown by these three nations at the recent world titles, which concluded overnight.

"We're particularly concerned about the way this is going in the run-up to the London Games," continued the UCI President.

"At London in 2012 we can guarantee there will be no-one using bikes, equipment and not even clothing (that is illegal) - because we are aware of developments in nanotechnology that can aid athletes in ways that would be outside the rules."

Brits not bothered by avowals

The man behind Britain's Beijing Olympic success and the recent launch in competition of Team Sky, Dave Brailsford, isn't perturbed by McQuaid's promise that there would be an enforced parity in London in two years' time.

Brailsford said he has, "always worked with the UCI and will continue to do so". This includes knowledge of Team Sky's working relationship with McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT), which provided technical support in the lead up to the squad's debut season. Team Sky has also used of the McLaren Formula One team's wind tunnel to develop rider position and the like.

"I think they're just trying to find parity," he added. "If the smaller nations want to start investing the same amount of money as the governments of Britain, Germany and Australia do then they're free to do so."

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