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Got the nose (and wallet) to sniff out a Tour de France stage win? Dylan Groenewegen’s bizarre Scicon Batman aero ‘beak’ finally available to buy… for just £300 – but why was it banned in the first place?

The Jayco AlUla rider was sporting the ‘flexible and adjustable’ nose cover as he outsprinted the field in Dijon, three days after being told to remove it by the UCI

After days of ridicule and countless online jokes and memes, Dylan Groenewegen, Jayco AlUla, and Scicon ultimately had the last laugh in Dijon on Thursday, when the Dutch champion outsprinted the field to win his first Tour de France stage for two years – while wearing his bizarre and widely ridiculed aero ‘beak’.

Although it didn’t take long for cycling fans to resume poking fun at the seemingly Batman-inspired nose cover, after glasses manufacturer Scicon last night made July’s most-talked about item of bike tech finally available to purchase – in an apparent bid to get around the UCI’s convoluted rules on prototypes in races – for the low, low price of £300.

As we reported earlier this week, the cycling world went into meltdown when Groenewegen was spotted with a rather unusual, beak-shaped addition to his glasses at the stage start in Piacenza on Monday, prompting an inevitable deluge of online ridicule and silliness as fans tried to get their heads around this latest “ridiculous” frontier in questionable aero tech.

Dylan Groenewegen's aero beak, 2024 Tour de France stage three (Eurosport)

> "This is getting ridiculous": Bizarre aero 'beak' spotted attached to Dylan Groenewegen's sunglasses at the Tour de France

According to Scicon, the nose pad, which is 3D-printed to suit each rider’s nose in an eight-hour-long process, was designed after requests from pros to help eliminate dirt and water from their eyewear during the cold and wet of the spring classics, despite the internet’s claims of the cover being simply an ‘aero’ beak.

While Groenewegen also appeared to be most attracted to its ‘Batman’ looks, Scicon does say that the cover contains “some aerodynamic benefits” (including a somewhat improbable claim that it accounts for 2-3kph, “especially on the downhill”), though the manufacturer also admitted that the impact of those marginal gains “depends”, and that it’s “also about fashion”.

2024 Dylan Groenewegen aero glasses @eurosportcycling

However, fashion-conscious, aero-focused, or otherwise, by the time Groenewegen sprinted to fifth place on stage three, behind a history-making Biniam Girmay, he was back in his beak-less ordinary Scicon Aeroscope shades and there was no aero nose cover to be seen. In a video shared later that night by his Jayco AlUla team, Groenewegen claimed that the UCI had stepped in mid-stage to order him to remove the offending nose cover.

“I need to put if off, from the UCI... that was a big surprise! I think they saw me not pedalling and said, ‘this is not fair, we need to stop these fast sunglasses’,” the Dutch champion joked.

> A bridge too far? Scicon prices bizarre aero 'beak' at €350, as Dylan Groenewegen reveals UCI ordered him to remove nose cover during Tour de France stage

However, just two days later, during the next sprint stage on Wednesday to Saint-Vulbas, where Mark Cavendish made his own bit of history, Groenewegen was back sporting the aero beak, and continued to wear it as he powered home to his sixth career Tour victory in Dijon on Thursday.

Dylan Groenewegen wins stage six, 2024 Tour de France (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

(Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

So, where did the UCI’s U-turn on Scicon’s latest tech come from?

Well, as we also noted earlier this week, soon after the nose cover’s debut, it popped up on Scicon’s website, priced at an eye-watering €350, but was classed as “unavailable to buy”.

But in the hours after Groenewegen’s triumph in Dijon, the £300 nose cover (which is separate from the glasses, it must be noted) was now available to purchase straight away on the manufacturer’s website – just in case you have an important club league sprint to win this weekend, and just three days after it appeared to be outlawed by the UCI.

Scicon nose cover site

> Can teams ride prototype bikes in the Tour de France? What are the rules around unreleased cycling tech in pro road racing?

Monday’s temporary ban on the nose cover appears to stem from the UCI’s complicated rules on the use of prototypes in races. Following Monday’s stage, Scicon told Escape Collective that the cover’s commercial availability, or lack of, was “the main problem” behind the governing body’s mid-stage ban.

According to article 1.3.006 of the UCI’s rules, all “equipment shall be of a type that is sold for use by anyone practising cycling as a sport” – except, notably, for prototypes, which are defined by the governing body as “equipment which is in the final stage of development and for which commercialisation will take place no later than 12 months after the first use in competition”.

> UCI orders pro team to stop using Ekoi's radical new road pedals an hour before race start

However, in a similar manner to Nice Métropole Côte d’Azur’s last-minute ditching of their new prototype Ekoi PW8 pedals at the Etoile de Bessèges earlier this year, Scicon were unable to use the nose cover as they had not submitted the UCI’s prototype application form – despite, even more bizarrely, the form not containing any section that suggests glasses and similar face-focused equipment need prior approval.

Scicon Aeroscope nose cover 2

Therefore, Scicon’s rapid move to make the nose cover available to purchase on their site for a staggeringly high price (a common feature of new prototype items, intended to put off too many would-be consumers) ensured that Groenewegen was given the green light to wear the sport’s latest questionable trend.

However, the furore over the nose pad has highlighted concerns from manufacturers over the UCI’s reported plans to consider dropping its prototype option entirely. The rumoured new regulations, which will be discussed at a meeting of the governing body’s management committee in September, would enforce immediate and mandatory commercialisation of all equipment before it’s used in races, effectively ending in-competition testing of new tech.

Scicon Aeroscope nose cover 3

In any case, what does Scicon say you get for your £300, eight gramme nose cover?

“Enjoy an exceptional fit for any face shape with the Aeroshade, Kunken, Aeroscope Nose Piece with flexible and adjustable nose pad,” the brand says on its website.

Scicon Aeroscope nose cover 1

“Simply adjust the nose pads yourself. Twist them, turn them, move them up or down to find your perfect fit. The silicon nose pad ensures a super soft feel and also grips your nose to help prevent it from sliding down your face. Highly adjustable, this nose pad is also suitable for Asian riders, proving that it can be adapted to any facial features.”

Okay, now it all makes sense…

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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4 comments

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Paul J | 1 week ago
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Pure marketing gimmick, and the entire cycling press has lapped it up.

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fukawitribe replied to Paul J | 1 week ago
1 like

The "entire cycling press" that i've read have pretty much universally taken the piss out of it....

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Paul J replied to fukawitribe | 1 week ago
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Doesn't matter, they still gave that sunglasses company reams and reams of front-page marketing copy.

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Cayo | 1 week ago
0 likes

To paraphrase Frankie Howerd, "Nose, nose and thrice nose!"

You'd struggle to pay me enough to wear one of those. The short nose bridge cover as part of Oakley's lens is just about aesthetically acceptable but this? No(se) way!

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