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Philippe Gilbert, Tim Wellens back ban of ‘super-tuck’ position

Former world champion urges colleagues to become more involved, while Wellens admits he will miss TT position in breakaways.

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Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) backs the UCI’s recent ban on the controversial “super-tuck” position, and urged his fellow pros to become more involved in creating a more unified voice in the peloton.

The former world champion played a key role as a rider representative within the CPA to help the UCI and other stakeholders unroll a series of high-profile safety rules for 2021 that have created fissures within the peloton.

Some decry the “super-tuck” ban as an UCI over-reach, but Gilbert said he backed the decision to eliminate the possibly unstable, but faster descending position.

“I think a bike is not made for that. I think if someone put the saddle on the bike it’s for a reason,” Gilbert said Friday. “Of course, it’s an efficient position and this is why a lot of people use it.”

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Gilbert, who crashed last year in the opening stage of the 2020 Tour de France , said the so-called “super-tuck” can be dangerous when executed within a larger group of riders descending in a pack.

“I have more a problem when people use it inside the bunch or in front of the bunch. If you crash like me alone, no one cares, it’s your own fault, but if you crash in the middle of the group or in the front of the group, and you may crash like 10-30 other guys, then I have a problem with that,” Gilbert said during a media call. “Everyone is responsible, but you don’t act like you’re alone when you’re in a group. Only for that reason, this rule is good.”

The issue blew up this month when many riders criticized not only the ban, but questioned how the decisions were made without what they said was appropriate input from the larger peloton.

Gilbert, who is a rider representative within the CPA, defended the process, and suggested that riders should be more proactive and become more involved in the CPA and provide their input to officials.

“It’s always funny to see the reaction of the riders,” Gilbert said. “It’s open to everyone to enter these meetings, and I would like to welcome more riders. [If you] spend your time and energy on that, and I think it will be efficient than saying things on social media. If we work in the right order, we will be more successful and stronger as a group. I would like to see riders open and understand the emails, and if it’s not clear, they can call the UCI or the CPA. It’s easy for anyone. It’s not so hard to get in contact if you need.”

Tim Wellens says he will miss aero position in breakaways

Lotto-Soudal teammate Tim Wellens also agreed with the rationale behind the bans on the “super-tuck” and time trial positions in breakaways, but admitted that those positions will be missed in certain situations

“I understand the decision. For me, I like to ride in this position, and I think I could ride good in this position, and I did a lot of training in this position,” Wellens said Friday. “But I can also understand why they did this. I can understand it is less-safe to ride without your hands on the handlebars like that than when you’re holding it. I am behind the decision.

“I know we have young riders looking up to us, and if they do it in traffic, and they crash, then it’s a little bit our fault,” he said in a media call. “I don’t see a problem in the new rules of banning it.”

Wellens said the ban on the time-trial handlebar position, when riders dip into a time trial-like tuck with their forearms perched on handlebars on their road setup, will be particularly missed when riders are alone off the front in breakaways.

Wellens is an aggressive rider, and is often in alone in solo moves or in small groups.

“I went to the wind-tunnel yesterday, and I simulated a few things, and for sure it is much more advantage to ride with this, with the arms on the handlebar, but it’s the same for everyone,” he said. “I do not have a problem with it.”

The UCI will start issuing time penalties and fines for riders who disobey the rules later this spring.