The effects of RAI's Davide Cassani's report of the existence of a doped (motorized) bike(s) continues to reverberate. The Tour de France first instituted a daily process to x-ray approximately 15 bikes. Today, for the Stage 3 pavé finish, the normal team activities for providing a spare bike to riders has been affected. The report by www.cyclingnews.com:
"......recent suspicion concerning hidden motors in bicycles made the International Cycling Union (UCI) add another difficulty in the already torturous stage. In the race finale, teams would normally have posted their assistants with spare bikes at the roadside to provide for quick bike changes if their leaders suffer a mechanical. This is what is usually done in Paris-Roubaix, but to exclude any possibility of electrical treachery, complete bike changes are now possible only from team cars.
"I don't like that decision," Vaughters said. "If someone breaks a bike, and the cars are two kilometres behind... Normally, we would have a person with a bike at every cobblestone sector, just waiting there. But now, the bike has to come off the roof of a team car."
In order to maintain everybody's chances, the race organiser has decided to determine specific zones of technical assistance after the last four cobbled sections, where teams will be allowed to provide spare wheels and other mechanical help.
Still, Vaughters thought that other alternatives existed. "You put a box on the side of the cobbles [for frame scanning - ed.], put a tag on them and then they're ready. I know that logistically, that's very difficult to do. But it would be better than just banning bike changes.
"It's just going to be a crazy day anyway,” he added. “For sure, there'll be a couple of GC contenders that are going to be eliminated from the race. And it is also very likely that riders will be eliminated because of a bike difficulty and being unable to change. And I don't think that is in the interest of fair play, either."
This all comes on the day after Stage 2 in which the finish was neutralized as riders rode slowly to the finish after numerous crashes on the wet decent of the Côte de Stockeu. The GC contenders will not be too eager to ride on the cobbles today after yesterday's crashes.
Sylvain Chavanel was the winner of yesterday's stage, putting in a brave performance and deserving of the yellow jersey.
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