Ventoso reluctantly welcomes the return of disc brakes
ABU DHABI, U.A.E. (VN) — Whether he likes it or not, Francisco Ventoso will see disc brakes return into the professional cycling peloton next season. The Spaniard, nearing the end of his tenure with Movistar and headed to BMC next season, stopped their debut this April when he released an open letter stating that a spinning rotor sliced him when he fell in Paris-Roubaix.
Earlier this month the UCI said that it would allow WorldTour teams to use the brakes on their bikes instead of traditional caliper brakes. The rotors should feature dull edges, instead of square ones, and be completely circular.
“It’s the same as racing the Abu Dhabi Tour in October, if they say that I have to use them, then I’ll use them,” said Ventoso, sitting in the hot sun at the Tour of Abu Dhabi. He sent an open letter just as heated to the UCI on April 13 when he returned home from Paris-Roubaix with a deep muscle cut to his left leg.
“The most worrying thing is that disc brakes in its actual concept are giant knives, ‘machetes’ when crashing against or crashed by them at a certain speed,” he wrote.
“And in some points, we reach 80, 90, 100 kilometers per hour. I’ve been lucky: I didn’t get my leg chopped off, it’s just some muscle and skin. But can you imagine that disk cutting a jugular or a femoral artery? I would prefer not to.”
The crash and letter brought the UCI’s disc brake debut to an abrupt halt.
The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) forced cycling’s governing body to re-evaluate the new technology. It appeared the discs were shelved, but the manufacturers like Shimano and Campagnolo continued designing.
The new discs must not have sharp edges or jagged shapes. Some talked of protective shields, but the rules do not require them.
It seems to be enough for Ventoso, who spoke with some hesitation about the return of disc brakes.
“I think it was too soon before. They didn’t do all the research. Now, it seems that they’ve done it and that the brakes are safer,” Ventoso explained.
“They modified the brakes, they studied the problems and guaranteed the safety for the riders. The UCI and CPA said that with these modifications that the manufacturers made make them safer. Let’s see. I put my faith in them.”
“I’ll use what the team gives me,” said Ventoso. “I’ve used them before on a road bike. They work the same as the caliper brakes.”
Some doubted that a disc cut Ventoso. Only teams Direct Energie and Lampre – Merida used then in the Paris-Roubaix, but both teams told VeloNews that none of their riders crashed in the same sector with Ventoso.
Cyclists spoke out against them all the same. Sam Bewley (Orica – BikeExchange) recently posted a photograph on Twitter showing burns on his body from a hot disc.
The discs will turn again, however. With the new rules, teams could use them already in the WorldTour’s first race, the Tour Down Under in January.