Remco Evenepoel blasts UCI over head sock ban: 'They’re making all the riders turn against them'

Belgian world champion unimpressed with the governing body's recent crackdown on time trial helmet innovations, as Matteo Jorgenson also weighs in

Clock17:20, Wednesday 6th March 2024
Remco Evenepoel (right) in the soon to be banned head sock

© Getty Images

Remco Evenepoel (right) in the soon to be banned head sock

Remco Evenepoel has called the UCI's decision to ban his team's time trial helmet "laughable" and argued the governing body risks "making all the riders turn against" it.

Soudal Quick-Step will no longer be allowed to wear the 'head sock' design they’ve been sporting for the past year and a half with the Specialized TT5. The aero helmet helmet features a non-removable cloth tube which wraps around the rider’s face and is also used by Bora-Hansgrohe, the new home of Evenepoel’s rival Primož Roglič.

The UCI has ruled that the fabric component of the design is “non-essential”, breaching a regulation against “components that are not exclusively for clothing or safety purposes”.

The governing body has banned the sock’s use in competition from April 2, meaning Evenepoel will need some new kit to defend his world time trial rainbow jersey later this year.

“It’s laughable. There are rules around brake levers, but I still see riders riding around with their brake levers tilting inwards,” Evenepoel told Sporza.

He was also quick to question the timing of the ban.

"Two years ago, they authorised our helmet, and now they’re taking it out. I kind of feel like they want to play with our balls," Evenepoel said.

"It's not very friendly what they're doing. There are other teams that are almost riding with a time trial helmet in the peloton. I’m thinking of EF Education-EasyPost. They [the UCI] are dragging cycling into the ridiculous and they’re making all the riders turn against the UCI."

Specialized has also commented on the UCI’s apparent change of heart, telling GCN: “Specialized is disappointed in this decision as it greatly impacts our riders and teams that have spent a significant amount of time preparing with the equipment that was UCI approved."

Read more: Specialized 'disappointed' at UCI head sock ban, highlights 18-month delay

Jorgenson: 'It's classic UCI'

The governing body announced the ban on the TT5 as part of a statement on Tuesday in which it also said it would, “carry out an in-depth analysis of the regulations governing the design and use of time trial helmets".

The UCI had weighed in on the debate in the wake of several teams taking experimentation with aerodynamics to a new level, including Visma-Lease a Bike’s new Giro Aerohead II TT helmet, which debuted at Tirreno-Adriatico.

The UCI has stated its concern that recent developments in time trial helmet design – yet another area of marginal gains – are putting performance over rider safety. Bahrain Victorious have also trialled a new helmet, the Rudy Project Windgream HL 85, which is another – alongside the Giro – to come under the UCI’s newfound scrutiny, despite initially earning its approval.

Read more: Visma-Lease a Bike defend Giro helmet in face of UCI’s ‘in-depth analysis’

Visma-Lease a Bike’s leader at Paris-Nice, Matteo Jorgenson, was also unimpressed.

“It just seems like classic UCI. This team, they did all their homework I’m sure. I was testing this in the wind tunnel in November and they said the helmet was approved then," the American rider told ITV.

“The UCI sometimes makes rules and goes back on them. Doing stuff like that makes me think all the rules are a bit loose. I would rather if they set rules, which they do for everything, then stand by them."

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