The UCI is reportedly investigating Leopard Trek rider Frank Schleck’s use of a Camelbak hydration system during the closing individual time trial of the Criterium International last month, apparently due to concerns that he used it to gain an aerodynamic advantage over his rivals.
Schleck finished 12th in the time trial to clinch the overall victory with the sack containing liquid strapped to his chest and was cleared to start by UCI officials, reports Sports Illustrated.
According to Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, using a hydration pack such as this can result in a rider gaining two seconds per kilometre as a result of improved aerodynamic efficiency.
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani, quoted by Sports Illustrated, said: “An investigation will be launched, so we'll find out what exactly happened. We want to know if there was a breach of the rules.”
Some have queried why Schleck felt the need to use a Camelbak at all, given the short distance involved, but Leopard Trek spokesman Tim Venderjeugd claimed that everything was above board.
“We are surprised by all the buzz surrounding this,” he insisted. “This is not new, and Frank used the Camelbak's hydration bags to hydrate himself. Even during short time trials, it's important to drink.”
He added that the team had scrutinised UCI rules governing the use of such products prior to the time trial and they were happy that they had complied with the law.
“The system is allowed if it doesn't change the shape of the body, which was the case with Frank,” maintained Vanderjeugd. “And the aerodynamics effects are yet to be proved, otherwise everybody would use it.”
He added that Schleck had used the Camelbak strapped to his chest as a trial to work out whether he should use it in July’s Tour de France.
“We want to assess the system ahead of the big races, to see if it can be efficient,” he concluded.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.