Tour de France 2020

The Livestream Diaries, entry #12: The UCI bans Evans’ cleft chin

... Thursday looks to be the 2011 Tour’s first true GC selection day as the peloton begins the first of 3 days in the Pyrenees. Covering 211km from Cugnaux to Luz Ardiden (best known as the site of Lance Armstrong’s brazen 2003 attempt to snatch a spectator’s purse with his handlebars) the stage ends with a pair of killer HC climbs ...

Editor’s note: Dan Wuori is one of the funniest Twitter bards in the cycling world (follow him at @dwuori). This month, he will be expanding a bit beyond 140 characters to share periodic journals during the Tour de France. Today’s is the twelfth.

American-based BMC racing reacted with anger to the UCI’s announcement Tuesday that it has banned Cadel Evans’ cleft chin under article 1.3.033 of the governing body’s technical regulations – which prohibits “items designed to influence the performances of a rider [by] reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider.”

Alerted by the Australian’s impressive performance to date, officials now believe the cleft may serve to channel air off of Evans’ face – providing an impermissible aerodynamic advantage.

The UCI has a tradition – some suggest arbitrary – of stepping in to ban equipment deemed “too aero.” Alberto Contador was left in a lurch in early 2010 when the UCI announced it would disallow the nosecone of his Specialized Shiv just two days before the final time trial of Portugal’s Volta ao Algarve. In early May the body banned the Bont Crono, a TT-specific road shoe designed to mimic those worn by very fast elves.

The Evans case is nonetheless unprecedented; marking the first time the UCI has chosen to ban a genetic trait. Though team officials vow to appeal, they complied with the ban Wednesday – securing a small tub of drywall spackling with which to plug the divot.

Wednesday’s 167.5km stage 11 was refreshingly uneventful. Despite crosswinds and periods of heavy rain the peloton arrived safely in Lavaur, where HTC-Highroad’s Mark Cavendish settled Tuesday’s tab by picking up his third stage win of 2011 (the 18th of his TDF career). Cavendish bested Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Andre Greipel and Garmin-Cervelo’s Tyler Farrar (who took second and third respectively) and assumed leadership of the green jersey points classification.

Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler retained the maillot jaune.

Thursday looks to be the 2011 Tour’s first true GC selection day as the peloton begins the first of 3 days in the Pyrenees. Covering 211km from Cugnaux to Luz Ardiden (best known as the site of Lance Armstrong’s brazen 2003 attempt to snatch a spectator’s purse with his handlebars) the stage ends with a pair of killer HC climbs.

Stage 12 also marks the point at which cycling newcomers – or “Americans” – may come to the realization that all Tour acronyms are required to contain a variation of the same three letters. As a public service, I present you this handy guide:

HTC: A cellular phone manufacturer and lukewarm title sponsor. (See: Cavendish, M.)

HCT: A pill that makes you tinkle. Lots. (See: Kolobnev, A. – alleged.)

HC: A category (“hors categorie”) into which climbs too steep to be categorized are, in fact, categorized. (See: Someone else. It wasn’t my idea.)

Dan’s pick for stage 12: Look for Contador’s bum knee to make a miraculous recovery as he seeks to close an early gap in the GC.