I understand why regulatory bodies exist in sport. In the simplest of terms they exist do ensure the safety of those racing and ensure that athletes are competing on a level playing field.
It seems however with the latest set of rules being set forth by the UCI that they’ve taken the “level playing field” a little too far.
Michael Robertson from Velodramatic puts forth an excellent analysis of the changes, but the highlight (or lowlights, in this case) in my opinion are:
- Approval times for technical drawing take 1 month
- Approval times for prototypes take 2 months
- After achieving approval from the UCI, the bike manufacturer must consult with the UCI on where the ‘official sticker’ should be placed
- Some parts going on the bikes are required to already be commonly available in the marketplace
- One-off bikes and components are specifically outlawed
Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be somewhere in between rolling your eyes and frothing at the mouth. I can’t think of a single sport where technology has been so blatantly restricted. We’re living in a world where technology is woven into the fibers of almost everything we do… For better or worse, but when it comes to sport – I think it’s for the better ;-)
There are some who muse that technology has the potential to provide an unfair advantage, but I think Mr. Robertson perfectly captures my feelings in this quote:
The world is now too small, science and technology too ubiquitous, and reverse-engineering too easy for any one company to possess a technological advantage sufficient to determine the outcome of the race.
In a similar way to car racing, technology is always going to play some part, and there will always need to be some need to place restrictions on technology – In my opinion, mainly for safety, but technology is part of racing, and it should be. To be completely honest, fans demand it. Just like the automotive industry, cycling relies on on the professionals for in depth research and development, stress testing and proving technologies long before the reach our bikes.
I encourage you to read the full article, but more importantly, where do you stand? Let technology reign? Or are you a purist, believing everybody should mount the same rig to truly level the playing field?