Great Britain are reportedly among a number of teams that filed a complaint against the Danish team pursuit squad’s use of medical tape placed on their shins as well as alleged illegal baselayers in yesterday’s qualifying rounds. The Danes were given a warning and didn't use the tape in today’s races, but they have not been disqualified from the competition.
In yesterday’s qualifying rounds of the men’s team pursuit, Denmark dominated the racing, breaking the Olympic record. But several teams, including GB, weren’t best pleased about some of the kit that the Danes had been using. This morning, Denmark beat Team GB to qualify for the gold medal race folowing another controversy altogether after a Danish rider crashed into Charlie Tanfield.
British Cycling’s performance director Stephen Park, speaking to the Daily Mail said: “Do I think they should be disqualified? I don’t think there is any alternative. The rules are clear. It says you cannot apply something to the skin. They have applied something to the skin.
“It says in the specific rule that if you break that rule, your option is for being eliminated or disqualified, so they have no option. There is no doubt in anyone else’s mind that it is deliberate.”
In a discipline where marginal gains have been taken to the Nth degree, small changes to aerodynamics can have a massive impact on the final results.
There are two points with which the Danes’ rivals took issue with. First was an easily visible application of medical tape along the length of each rider’s shin bones. This tape is only around 1mm thick, but it is said to provide a trip layer for air passing over the lower portion of the leg. This, apparently, means that the air remains in contact with the leg for a longer time with the result being a smaller area of wake and thus a lower drag.
The second item of contention couldn’t be seen so easily. The Danish team were reportedly wearing special base layers under their skinsuits.
The UCI has numerous rules regarding aerodynamic trip layers on these skinsuits, so it appears that the Danes attempted to bypass this by wearing baselayers with the aero texture over which they wore their skinsuits.
Park took issue with the availability of the vest. UCI rules dictate that any item used in competition must be available to purchase.
“There was some debate over whether or not they did or didn’t need to be registered,’ added Park.
“The relevance of that was whether it was for aerodynamic gain or not and whether it was available for sale.
“Unfortunately to the first point, the item in question, which is a Huub garment, is actually advertised as an aerodynamic undervest, so there can be little doubt as to whether or not it is there for aerodynamic purposes or not.
“There is also a question because none of the teams believe it was for sale on January 1, particularly as a number of teams have researched into the source code of the website and found that it was actually published in May.
“The information relating to the kit being available on January 1 was only added in the last 24 hours.”
Despite the UCI admitting that the Danes had breached regulations, the team was handed only a warning, not a disqualification from the event, but Park wasn’t ruling out a further legal challenge today:
“We will have to consider whether there is any further action that we need to take, if we believe, when our legal advisers have looked at the documents, that the UCI just haven’t followed their own rules or not,” he said.
In the end, the aero changes were in vain as Team GB and Denmark faced off in this morning’s round of racing which decides who will race for gold and who will race for bronze. As the race entered the finishing stages, the GB team broke up and Charlie Tanfield, riding in his first Olympics, was dropped in the man 3 position.
Tanfield, trying desperately to regain contact, kept riding around the bottom of the track, as he should. The Danes, catching up with Tanfield, may have thought that Tanfield was out of the race and expected him to move, but regardless, when the leading Danish rider crashed into the rear wheel of Tanfield, it was with the Danes that the fault lay.
Regarding the Danes' use of what Stephen Park described as an 'aerodynamic undervest, road.cc has contacted Huub for comment.
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.