Walter Planckaert, sports director at Belgian UCI Professional Continental team Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, has revealed it has a rather unusual recruitment policy – it won’t sign riders with beards.
He told Het Nieuwsblad at the weekend that the decision was based on preserving “the elegance of the sport.”
The 1976 Tour of Flanders winner continued: “We’re cyclists, not motocross riders or rugby players.
“I’ve nothing against motocross, but a rider with a beard doesn’t fit.”
To emphasise his point, he added: “Snot and food stay in a rider’s beard. That’s filthy.”
He told the newspaper that a bit of stubble, such as is sported by Philippe Gilbert or Greg van Avermaet, is fine in his book, but a full beard is not, and that if a rider refused to shave “he has to find another team.”
Besides elegance, however, there is a sound cycling reason for keeping clean shaven if wind tunnel research conducted by Specialized at its headquarters in Morgan Hill, California, is to be believed.
So, who needn’t apply for a place on the team – or at least, should make sure they’ve got rid of the facial fluff when they meet Planckaert?
Well, Sir Bradley Wiggins, should he ever decide to come out of retirement, would have to get rid of his beard and – going by this footage of him at the unveiling of a memorial to Tom Simpson earlier this month – also get a short back and sides for good measure.
There’d be no place either for German pro cyclist and Tour de France stage winner Simon Geschke, nor for three-time world champion Peter Sagan or indeed the Namibian rider, Dan Craven, among others.
— Peter Sagan (@petosagan) September 24, 2017
And should Zimbabwe-born long-distance cyclist Sean Conway ever fancy turning pro, well, that’s one team he needn’t send his CV to …
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.