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Five things (not power meters) that basically ruined cycling

Power meters: They are ruining pro cycling, and it’s time for Chris Froome to start taking this clear and present danger more seriously.

His Vuelta rivals, Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador have expressed genuine concern about the latest high-tech boogie-man that’s turning the big tours into farces. And on Wednesday, Sky’s skeletal leader scoffed, “Why not [ban power meters], and then we can also go back to single-speed bikes without gears. Why not, eh?”

Face it, pro cycling is best when it lives in a musty crypt — or perhaps a time capsule — to preserve the sepia-toned majesty of the sport. Let’s hop into the way-back machine and consider five things that definitely, probably ruined cycling.

Drafting will ruin cycling. Tour de France founder, overlord, and sorta-crazy French guy Henri Desgrange waited until 1925 to allow teammates to pace each other at the race, and the public was justly incensed by the innovation. Fans yearned for the thrilling blow-for-blow action afforded by what were essentially 400+ kilometer individual time trial stages. It was a different era, and anyway, before the advent of super-stinky European cologne, riders choked on super-stinky European B.O. once they started riding together.

Shimano will ruin cycling. You know how beautifully silent your dad’s old 10-speed was with those friction shifters? Thanks to one conniving bike company, bikes began clicking louder than a troupe of Spaniards with castanets once the Positron index shifters came online in 1977. Don’t you pine for the golden era of cycling, when a rider like Benoni Beheyt could sneak up on Rik van Looy to win world championships, like a Belgian Pink Panther?

“Eight-speed [or nine-speed, or 10-speed, or 11-speed] cassettes will ruin cycling”
–The guy on your group ride that just bought an outdated drivetrain.

Helmets will ruin cycling. I think we can all agree, this was one giant conspiracy to keep us from enjoying Mario Cipollini’s amazing head of hair. What a pity. And think of the intrepid barber in the Tour de France start village, plying his trade on the sport’s fastest heads. You can be sure his business tanked when everyone had to wear helmets.

Disc brakes will ruin cycling. And they almost did, but Movistar’s Fran Ventoso dove onto that circular machete-shaped grenade at Paris-Roubaix, convincing the UCI to put an immediate stop to those in the peloton who’d like to stop more immediately. Surely the peloton was relieved as it plunged down the rain-slicked descent to Morzine in stage 20 of the Tour.

So maybe Chris Froome has a point. It would be pretty ridiculous to race singlespeed bikes. Power meters don’t affect the race that much, and anyhow, Quintana was fiddling with his computer more than Froome on Lagos de Covadonga in stage 10 (millennials … typical). But don’t forget, there is one piece of technology, which the UCI eventually banished, one that nearly chopped off Paolo Bettini’s hand (Google it).

Spinergy Rev X wheels. Those totally ruined cycling (see below).

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com