Sleepless in France?
So much for marginal gains, the sleep version.
Team Sky’s latest sports science recovery weapon will not be parked all over France in July. The UCI put that idea to bed.
It turns out the UCI, the governing body of the sport, has decided that Sky’s Skip-Crummy French-Hotels plan is basically unfair to all the other smaller budget teams that can’t afford a nice private motorhome for their top GC rider.
The UCI woke up to the competitive advantage and amended the regulations, article 2.2.010, Support French Hospitality Industry section. It now reads: “In all road stage races on the international calendar, the organizers must cover the subsistence expenses of the teams from the night before the start to the final day; riders must stay in the hotels provided by the organizer throughout the entire duration of the race.”
Froome, who was looking to sleep his way to the top of the podium while Nibali, Quintana and Contador tossed and turned in their crappy beds, must now deal with a roommate and over 20 hotels of unpredictable quality.
But fair is fair and while Froome and may still bring his own pillow, the UCI drew a hard line in the hotel bed on this one, stating that the rule edit “was made in order to reaffirm absolute fairness between all riders.”
And so a more than marginal gain is now lost. In effect, Froome lost about 23 opportunities to gain ground on his rivals with a deeper sleep and deeper recovery each night. He’ll also have to contend with rooms that are too hot or too cold or both depending on the state (or existence) of an air conditioner.
Then again, it is really unfair? The sporting conditions are already stacked against most of the teams when compared to the immense resources and budget advantages of Team Sky. They have better bikes, kit, food, team bus, team vehicles, recovery products, better mechanics, soigneurs, the list goes on.
Unfair advantage? Sky can buy any top ranked riders it wants to support Chris Froome. So in the end, what difference does a motorhome make? In the grand scheme, Sky already has 99 unfair advantages so what’s wrong with one more?
Call us cynical but this almost feels more like Tour organizer ASO leaning on the UCI to protect the French hotel industry. Because you know how this goes — first it’s Froome and his private hotel on wheels and pretty soon the whole squad has special motorhomes. Deep pockets will do that.
Because the unfair advantage argument doesn’t really wash for us. However the motorhome became an ugly and very visible symbol of the gulf between the Tour rich and the Tour poor and seems to cut at the unwritten, time honored, emotional rules of Le Grand Shindig.
Sky bringing a motorhome sent a message that we’re not sleeping in French hotels and that was akin to we’re not eating the French food and by the way, we’d really like to pick our own stage route each day.
There was just something fundamentally disrespectful about the motorhome that offended the essential rules of the race and insulted France itself.
So Chris Froome will get his two rest days like the rest of his Tour rivals and nothing more. The nights will be spent the regular old school way — you ride the roads, you sleep in the beds. Les Forçats de la Route et du Lit” as they might say in French.
The UCI makes your bed and you sleep in it.