July 09, 2004

EuroRules at the Tour de France

Did anyone else notice that there is something decidedly "European Communityish" about the new Team Time Trial rules for the Tour de France:

A new rule for this year means that no team can lose more than 2:30 on this stage, but any dropped rider will have to finish within 25 percent of his team's time to avoid being eliminated.

2nd place Phonak (yay!) lost 20 seconds overall despite being 1'07" back and last place Fdjeux.com riders lost 3 minutes despite their being 7'33" behind Postal. So Tyler Hamilton is given 47 seconds back from Postal. (Note to Tyler: dump the Continental tires.) And Fdjeux are given a whopping 4 and half minute bonus for their miserable effort.

Meanwhile, the ill-fated Gilberto Simoni fell on the penultimate turn and was left by his team, adding an additional minute to his time. "Oops, sorry, boss. Hope that won't affect our Christmas bonus."

Also notable this year are the new time trial helmets, which in the past were only slick shells, but now have to be fully protective. The result, apart from the chic Giro helmets of Postal, are ungainly, unaerodynamic and (frankly) goofy helmets.

I'm all for the protection, but doesn't this smack of the kind of picayune rule-making for which Brussels is famous. What next? All riders in the time trial have to ride 3 bike lengths apart? Maximum speed of 15km/hour? Mandatory hand signals?

Maybe each team will have to pull along a 65 kilo Eurocrat in a little bike trailer.

Posted by campbell at July 9, 2004 11:23 PM | TrackBack
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