Although Thomas De Gendt was among the few professional riders who read an email from the CPA this winter regarding moves to ban the 'super-tuck' position, he has criticised the riders' association for failing to relay its members' views to race organisers, including at the 2020 Giro d’Italia.
In an interview with Sporza’s ‘De Tribune’ podcast, De Gendt responded to CPA rider representative Matteo Trentin, who told Cyclingnews last week that only 16 riders had downloaded the documents that spelled out possible rule changes following meetings with the UCI this winter.
'Yes, I'm one of those 16 riders. I happened to read the attachment in that email. It's one of the only CPA emails I've actually read," De Gendt told Sporza.
"I did that because Adam Hansen, who was our CPA representative at Lotto Soudal in the past, said there was going to be a lot of discussion about safety. What's in that email isn’t all bad, either."
After riders criticised the forthcoming ban on the 'super-tuck' and 'forearms-on-handlebars' positions, Trentin told Cyclingnews that his colleagues "should spend less time on TikTok and be more proactive when it comes to making their workplace a safer place".
While De Gendt acknowledged that Trentin’s frustration was well founded, he argued that the timing of the communication from the CPA meant that few riders were likely to engage with the process.
"The email was sent at the beginning of November. Most riders are in a rest period then. I also put my mobile phone aside for three weeks during that period," said De Gendt, who argued that the CPA should have canvassed its members’ opinions on the most pressing safety issues before speaking with the UCI at all.
Trentin and De Gendt’s Lotto Soudal teammate Philippe Gilbert served as rider representatives in talks with the UCI in October and November of last year.
"Now these recommendations have come from a few riders and a few team leaders. It’s wrong that they tried to involve too few riders," De Gendt said. "Our person in charge was Philippe Gilbert. He was involved, but he also didn’t let us know about what was discussed."
This past winter also saw the launch of a breakaway representative body, the Riders Union, a development that UCI president David Lappartient had labelled as "fake news" as recently as September. The Riders Union grew out of frustration over the CPA's voting process as well as concerns that the existing body was too closely aligned with the UCI and race organisers.
"The new union still has everything to prove, but hopefully they will do better," said De Gendt. "I have very little faith in the CPA, because it has already lied to riders a number of times, saying that they had talked to organisers when they had not. They want to keep us quiet.
"An example is the stage in the Giro 2020, which was ultimately halved. But it has happened before. The union must represent us, too, and not just the organisers."
Stage 19 of last year’s Giro was halved in distance following a protest from riders at the start in Morbegno, but race director Mauro Vegni claimed that he had received no request to shorten the stage until minutes before it was due to begin.
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