Quick-Step Floors' Philippe Gilbert has reacted angrily to a video posted on Twitter by BMC that shows a soigneur stepping across the central markings and into the left lane of the road to hand food bags to their riders, when normal practice should be to stand on the edge of the right lane.
Ahead of the BMC soigneur, a Dimension Data member of staff can be seen in the video doing the same thing during the rainy stage 2 of the Tour of Guangxi in China on Wednesday.
It's not uncommon for team 'carers' to encroach into the road to try to hand their riders musettes, but Gilbert clearly believes the soigneurs in the video are literally overstepping the mark.
"This scene should be sanctioned by the UCI," Gilbert wrote on Twitter. "I will never understand these assistants standing on the left side of the road to give the feedbags. They make us risk a lot!"
Gilbert is racing with Quick-Step at the Tour of Guangxi, and would therefore have first-hand experience of passing through the feed zone in the video. The 36-year-old Belgian returned to racing just last month after fracturing his kneecap in a crash at the Tour de France in July.
The UCI rules on the matter – section 2.3.026 – state: The food and drink shall be distributed on foot by the staff accompanying the team and by no-one else. They shall be positioned on one side of the road only, which must be the side on which road traffic circulates in the country concerned.
The rule appears to be suggesting that bags should be distributed from the right-hand side of the road, as that is the side of the road on which traffic drives in China.
Feeding from the left side of the road – which is not happening in the video – or encroaching into the left lane, which is clearly the case in the video, however, could therefore be considered to be against the rules, although the rules don't state how far into the road soigneurs are allowed to stand.
The same rules also suggest that in countries where traffic drives on the left side of the road – as in the UK and Australia, for example – soigneurs should be handing out feedbags from the left side of the road, although that doesn't appear to actually ever happen, with carers continuing to distribute musettes from the right-hand side of the road, no matter which country they're in.
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