For Monday's men's team pursuit qualifying round at the Tokyo Olympics, all eyes were on Denmark as the hot favourites for the event, but even before the four man squad had climbed onto their bikes, they were making headlines.
Spotted on the front of the riders' shins extending upward from within the socks was a strip of kinesiology tape that continued up to just beneath the knee.
Kinesiology tape is not uncommon in professional sport. It is regularly used to aid with support of muscles and joints in the case of an injury or imbalance, but in this instance, the same tape was applied to both legs of all four riders.
Coincidentally, the positioning of the tape would also act as a trip strip, creating turbulence to the onrushing air, helping it to remain attached to the surface of the leg for longer and subsequently improving the aerodynamic performance of the riders.
A tweet from Chris Boardman has called out the team on the subject, claiming it a coincidence that all four members would be carrying a similar injury in such an area where the application of tape would be advantageous.
Every rider with the same injury on both legs requiring ‘medical tape’ down the front of their legs, coincidently exactly where it would be aerodynamically advantageous 🤔🤔🤔 https://t.co/l4mFuDFswwAugust 2, 2021
The team is supported by aerodynamics expert, Dan Bigham, who has a reputation for finding performance gains through aerodynamic and technological advancement. So many believe this to be a tactical use of kinesiology tape, rather than medical.
The UCI's rules on the subject claim that "Items of clothing may not modify the morphology of the rider and any non-essential element or device, of which the purpose is not exclusively that of clothing or protection, is forbidden. This shall also apply regarding any material or substance applied onto the skin or clothing and which is not itself an item of clothing."
A second tweet from Boardman added "To clarify, I believe [the] Danish team OK’d [the] tape use with [the] UCI".
Cyclingnews has reached out to both Bigham and the UCI for comment.
Update: Officials have subsequently banned the use of the tape, issuing the Danish squad with a warning, but Team GB's Stephen Park wants a more severe punishment.
Josh has been with us as Senior Tech Writer since the summer of 2019 and throughout that time he's covered everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. On the bike, Josh has been riding and racing for over 15 years. He started out racing cross country in his teens back when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s, racing at a local and national level for Team Tor 2000. He's always keen to get his hands on the newest tech, and while he enjoys a good long road race, he's much more at home in a local criterium.
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