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UCI "condemns" Giro d'Italia teams using helicopters to shorten post-stage travel

Soudal Quick-Step and Remco Evenepoel were pictured jumping into a helicopter for a quick getaway, the UCI saying "it goes against the principles of fair play [...] and carbon footprint reduction"...

The UCI has released a statement condemning the use of helicopters by certain teams at this year's Giro d'Italia to shorten the transfer time from the top of yesterday's summit finish to their hotels.

Soudal Quick-Step shared a photo of Remco Evenepoel and his teammates using a helicopter to get off the mountain, Geraint Thomas telling his podcast that Bora-Hansgrohe, Bahrain Victorious, Jumbo-Visma and possibly UAE Team Emirates did too.

The UCI said the helicopter transfer "goes against the principles of fair play and the regulatory provisions for ensuring equal treatment for transfer of teams to their hotels" and also "against the principle of carbon footprint reduction". The governing body promised to take "necessary measures and sanctions" to prevent a repeat in the future.

It is believed the helicopters were put on by the Giro's organisers RCS and offered to all the teams, those willing to pay for the ride being swiftly whisked off the mountain while the rest of the peloton waited with the rest of the race and public in the queue for the cable car (seen below in a photo taken by cycling commentator and Never Strays Far podcaster Ned Boulting).

Gran Sasso d'Italia cable car queue (Ned Boulting/Twitter)

Speaking on his podcast, Thomas explained how Ineos Grenadiers were one of relatively few 'bigger' teams to pass on the helicopter transfer, joking that they were left to use Filippo Ganna's fame to help cut the cable car queue.

"It was a big thing last night: 'How are we getting back? In the cars?'," he told his Watts Occurring podcast. "But if you go in the cars you have to wait for the grupetto. There's a cable car that you get 50 people in, but with all the public, or we ride down 25km to the bus. We ended up going with the cable car.

"A few of the teams had bloody helicopters, we had to wait for this gondola and push through the public, we were just shouting 'Filippo Ganna coming through!' and they let us through because they absolutely love him here for obvious reasons. We still had to wait a good 20 minutes, down to the bus and then it was two hours on the bus.

Naming the teams he knew took the quicker, less environmentally friendly option, Thomas said: "Quick-Step, Bora, Bahrain, I'm guessing UAE as well and Jumbo surely, but I asked Rohan Dennis and as you can imagine the reply I got from him... it wasn't a straightforward answer! You couldn't decipher whether they did or not. A few teams did... times have changed, haven't they? Normally we'd be first in line for a helicopter... now we're just the cable car crew."

This morning, Ineos Grenadiers confirmed that Ganna had tested positive for Covid and was "displaying mild, flu-like symptoms" so would leave the race, raising concerns about the race and public packed in close quarters queueing for the cable car last night.

The UCI's statement read... 

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) notes that helicopter transport was used by some riders to leave the finish area after the end of the 7th stage of the Giro d'Italia, between Capua and Gran Sasso d'Italia.

This constitutes an advantage that goes against the principles of fair play and the regulatory provisions for ensuring equal treatment for transfer of teams to their hotels. In addition, some riders' use of a helicopter transport for this purpose goes against the principle of carbon footprint reduction, as stated in the UCI WorldTour organiser specifications.

The UCI will take necessary measures and sanctions to ensure that such a practice does not occur in the future.

The UCI firmly condemns this behaviour which goes against the principles of fair play and equity, the fundamental values of sport.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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cyclisto | 1 year ago
1 like

It would be nice if one day people realized that cycle racing and many times recreational cycling (just see all the SUVs loaded with bicycles going to quiet places) has very few things in common with green transport by bicycle.

Nick Gough replied to cyclisto | 10 months ago

Isn't that the point? Most of us do recognise that and want the two to be more similar.

Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
1 like

It's not the first time this has happened: Froome, Roche, Contador and Valverde were choppered away by the organisers from a mountain finish in the Vuelta in 2012, sure there are other examples, so the UCI have had at least eleven years to ban it (as they should) and suddenly they're outraged?

wtjs | 1 year ago
1 like

I was hoping for pictures of the hotel up there, scene of another newsworthy air transport incident when Skorzeny's commando rescued Mussolini from there in 43. I didn't hear anybody mention this!

AidanR | 1 year ago
1 like

There is a certain irony that a team sponsored by a giant gas-guzzling SUV is the most concerned about their carbon footprint.

ooblyboo replied to AidanR | 1 year ago

Also the fact that at least one helicopter followed the race around for much of the day beforehand but clearly we aren't mentioning that bit.

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