UCI halts disc brakes amid safety fears

Francesco Ventoso after his crash last Sunday.

The horrific leg injury sustained by Spanish road cyclist Francesco Ventoso has forced the sport’s governing body, the UCI, to suspend the use of a new type of braking mechanism in the pro peloton.

Disc brakes were trialled by some teams during last Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix but when Movistar rider Ventoso came into contact with one such brake, he suffered a shocking gash to his leg.

“Shortly afterwards [after the crash], I have a glance at that leg: it doesn’t hurt, there’s not a lot of blood covering it, but I can clearly see part of the periosteum, the membrane or surface that covers my tibia,” Ventoso wrote in an open letter to the UCI this week, describing his injury.

“I get off my bike, throw myself against the right-hand side of the road over the grass, cover my face with my hands in shock and disbelief, start to feel sick. I could only wait for my team car and the ambulance, while a lot of things come through my mind.

“I’ve been lucky,” he wrote. “I didn’t get my leg chopped off, it’s just some muscle and skin. But can you imagine that disc cutting a jugular or a femoral artery? I would prefer not to. Discs produce cuts. This time it was me; tomorrow, it can be more serious and happen to others.”

Less than 24 hours after his letter was received by the sport’s road commission, decisive action was taken.

“Rider security has always been and will always remain its absolute priority,” read a UCI statement published last night.

“The UCI announces it has decided to suspend, with immediate effect, the trial of disc brakes currently being carried out in road races. This decision follows a request to do so made by the Association Internationale des Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels — which represents all professional cycling teams — following the injuries suffered by Movistar Team rider Francisco Ventoso at Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix Classic.”

The statement went on to say that while the controversial brakes are banned for now, they may return at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, Sean Lacey will be among the favourites for Sunday’s GasNetworks Ireland Visit Nenagh Classic. The Aquablue man has never won the race but played a key role in helping former teammates Timmy Barry (2012 and 2013) as well as Damien Shaw (2014) to wins.

Lacey is in ominous form and he’ll be backed by a strong squad that includes the likes of Mark O’Callaghan, Anthony Walsh, Matteo Cigala, and Greg Swinand.

Also making the trip to Tipp will be the UCD-Fitzcycles pair of Ian Richardson and Eoin Morton while ASEA-Wheelworx are expected to send a full roster as well.

Elsewhere, France Amical Vélo Club Aix-en-Provence and Germany Stradalli — Bike Aid have confirmed their participation for the An Post Rás from May 22-29.

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