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Rider thrown off Baloise Belgium Tour for using illegal handlebars allowing him to rest his arms on them

Commissaire allowed Jan Willem van Schip to start stage with controversial set-up, but UCI later disqualified him

“We are going to write history” tweeted Beat Cycling yesterday morning ahead of its rider Jan-Willem van Schip using Speeco’s Aero Breakaway Bar (ABB) in competition for the first time at the Baloise Belgium Tour – and indeed they did, but not in the way the Dutch UCI Continental team would have expected, as the rider was promptly thrown out of the race after the governing body ruled that the handlebar set-up was illegal.

Designed specifically for van Schip, the team cleared the use of the handlebars with a UCI commissaire prior to the start of yesterday’s Stage 3 of the race.

> Speeco causes a stir: new aero optimised road handlebars with forearm rest launched

The 26-year-old Dutch rider – a track specialist who has twice won silver in the Omnium at the world championships – promptly got in the break and won the day’s combativity prize.

But after the stage, the UCI’s technical committee reviewed TV footage and ruled that the handlebars contravened new rules introduced on 1 April aimed at improving rider safety such as banning the ‘supertuck’ position and riding with the hands draped over the top of the hoods, as used to be seen regularly in breakaways or at the head of the peloton.

The relevant new regulation in this case provides that “using the forearms as a point of support on the handlebar is prohibited except in time trials.”

Reacting to the decision to disqualify him from the race, his team said on Twitter: “Beat Cycling has learned with great surprise of the disqualification of Jan-Wllem van Schip in the Baloise Belgium Tour after the third stage.

“The disqualification is based on the ABB handlebar that Jan-Willem used during the stage and which, according to the UCI statement, are allowed.

“We do not understand this decision. Since the launch of the ABB handlebar, we have been discussing this with the UCI. Never the UCI informed us that the handlebar would not be allowed.

“The UCI has also seen no need to accept the offer of the developer of the ABB handlebar to further investigate the admissibility.

“On the morning before the start of the third stage, we even discussed our intentions to ride with the handlebar with the UCI commissaire on site,” it said.

“Here we got the green light to start with the ABB. The UCI has not made any reservations about this.

“Beat believes that the disqualification is unjustified and that Jan-Willem van Schip is seriously affected,” it added.

When the handlebars were launched in December, there were immediate calls from some pro cyclists for them to be banned, including the Trek Segafredo rider, Ryan Mullan.

The Irish rider, who is taking part in the Baloise Belgium Tour, tweeted after yesterday’s stage, criticising the decision to allow the Beat Cycling rider to race with the ABB handlebars.

One of the replies to his tweet highlighted a UCI presentation from earlier this year that, in providing examples of banned positions, included a photo of van Schip himself riding with the now-banned set-up, released when the handlebars were unveiled in December.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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