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Chris Froome calls for time trial bike ban in professional cycling

"Is it really necessary for us to have time trial bikes in road cycling? At what point do we start thinking logically about our sport and introduce measures to make it safer?"...

Chris Froome has made the case for banning time trial bikes in professional racing, suggesting using road bikes would be safer and fairer.

The four-time Tour de France winner acknowledged that even despite his time trial pedigree, and the fact most of his major wins have involved excellence in the discipline, he still believes the bikes are not safe for use on open roads.

Froome's comments come two weeks after his former teammate Egan Bernal suffered a devastating crash while training on his Pinarello time trial bike in Colombia, while Froome himself also suffered career-threatening injuries in a fall while training on his time trial bike at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné.

The 36-year-old echoed Tom Pidcock's comments about time trial bikes being too dangerous for training on public roads, but went one step further and suggested using road bikes for time trial events too.

"Is it really necessary for us to have time trial bikes in road cycling?" Froome asked in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel. "Being out on my time trial bike this morning, and in light of recent events, time trial bikes are not really meant to be ridden on the roads the way that we need to ride them in order to be ready.

"To be able to get ready for an hour-long time trial you have to get out there on your time trial bike and simulate that. How many roads around you do you know that you can ride for an hour in almost closed road conditions where there is no traffic, no stop signs, no traffic lights? Those conditions do not exist in the real world.

"When you are on the skis (handlebar extensions) you have no brakes. You need to sit up, it is not really that safe. It is one thing when you are racing with closed roads, and even then we see some pretty horrendous accidents, but it is completely another thing when you are out on open roads with traffic and people crossing the roads.

"Given the dangers involved with training and racing on time trial bikes, and given the discrepancy in equipment in terms of time trialling, would it not be a lot more uniform to have time trials done on road bikes?

"Without a doubt I think it would make it more of a level playing field, and it would make it a lot more about the skill of the individual riders, as opposed to so much about aerodynamics, time in the wind tunnel, and basically the funding that goes into a project.

"I find it quite ironic that the UCI has introduced things to try and make the sport safer, by limiting the position you can use while on the bike but, in my opinion, something like this which would be easy to introduce would have a far greater impact on the safety of professional cyclists."

Froome was quick to point out a time trial ban would most likely impact his own fortunes negatively but stressed the bigger picture of rider safety is more important.

"Most of my big victories...there have been time trials in there," he admitted. "I love time trialling, it is an art, a skill, it is really nuanced. It is something you really need to know a lot about to get it right as a professional cyclist. That is one of the magical things about Grand Tour racing and the balance between climbers versus guys that can time trial.

"I realise most of my accolades have come from events with time trials in them, but at what point do we start thinking logically about our sport and introduce measures to make it safer?

"It would probably leave me at a disadvantage if it was implemented but it definitely got me thinking about the bigger picture and safety of athletes as a whole."

In the video, Froome also addressed the perennial question of do cobbles and gravel stages have a place in Grand Tours?

In 2014, the then Team Sky rider crashed out of defending his yellow jersey on the Paris-Roubaix stage during the fight for position before the race reached the cobbles.

"It is a tricky one," he continued. "It does give excitement to the race, but it is just such a big risk as well. When you think what it takes to be ready to go into a race for general classification. It is months of dedication, not just from the team leader, but the team around him, the whole support crew, everything.

"Which can literally all be for nothing if you get into a gravel or cobbled section. I see the excitement side, but it really is rolling the dice in terms of risk versus reward for the GC guys. When it affects a whole stage race or Grand Tour I think it is a big shame."

Finally, addressing his own training and ambitions for 2022, the seven-time Grand Tour winner said doubts remain about his race programme, although the Tour de France remains top priority.

"My race programme is still to be decided, I will most probably start racing at some point in March but we will decide as we get closer to the time and see how the numbers and condition are as I get through the next training camp.

"Still the big goal will be to be in peak condition for the Tour de France but we are keeping a very flexible approach to the season and build-up to that point."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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