The UCI is reportedly investigating Leopard Trek rider Frank Schleck’s use of a Camelbak hydration system during the closing individual time trial of the Criterium International last month, apparently due to concerns that he used it to gain an aerodynamic advantage over his rivals.
Schleck finished 12th in the time trial to clinch the overall victory with the sack containing liquid strapped to his chest and was cleared to start by UCI officials, reports Sports Illustrated.
According to Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, using a hydration pack such as this can result in a rider gaining two seconds per kilometre as a result of improved aerodynamic efficiency.
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani, quoted by Sports Illustrated, said: “An investigation will be launched, so we'll find out what exactly happened. We want to know if there was a breach of the rules.”
Some have queried why Schleck felt the need to use a Camelbak at all, given the short distance involved, but Leopard Trek spokesman Tim Venderjeugd claimed that everything was above board.
“We are surprised by all the buzz surrounding this,” he insisted. “This is not new, and Frank used the Camelbak's hydration bags to hydrate himself. Even during short time trials, it's important to drink.”
He added that the team had scrutinised UCI rules governing the use of such products prior to the time trial and they were happy that they had complied with the law.
“The system is allowed if it doesn't change the shape of the body, which was the case with Frank,” maintained Vanderjeugd. “And the aerodynamics effects are yet to be proved, otherwise everybody would use it.”
He added that Schleck had used the Camelbak strapped to his chest as a trial to work out whether he should use it in July’s Tour de France.
“We want to assess the system ahead of the big races, to see if it can be efficient,” he concluded.
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.