Drafting the Caravan?

Do regulations against drafting cars in the caravan need to be enforced/strengthened?

  • Yes, rider's lives are at stake

    Votes: 8 24.2%
  • No, riders need to HTFU/learn to handle their bikes better

    Votes: 3 9.1%
  • No, it is impossible to enforce/just part of racing

    Votes: 22 66.7%
  • I don't care

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    33
So, I didn't want to post on the thread about the incident today since someone is fighting for his life right now. Fingers crossed he makes it. But I've always thought this needs to be phased out. I had posted something about it previously but looking it up it I really missed the chance then to expand how I feel about it. It's crazy dangerous. Race organizers let it happen, because it gives star riders a chance to get back on after an accident or a puncture. But this really hit me looking at Uran just absolutely surf through cars at last year's Giro. He had no regard for his own life. He dropped his five teammates like they weren't there, and those Ettix guys were no shrinking violets. And reading this piece. It's tradition, sure. People do it all the time. But it's insanely dangerous. These guys get way too close. And, I hate to touch another third rail here, but additionally rim brakes on carbon tend to have a little lag to them, particular in the wet. Someone suddenly brakes in front of you and it gets really dicey. So, is this just my thing, or does this need to stop?

My MSR post:
carton said:
Taking a 60kph sticky bottle into the caravan draft, then drafting your way up the caravan and into the back of the peloton has always been a shady but generally unpunished thing in cycling. The UCI frowns upon it but really doesn't do anything about it since they want the big names to be there, Ian Crane is still alive, and people have sympathy for misfortune (as long as you don't win the race, then the going gets rough).
 
I like you carton, but it's a moot thread. If I fall, if you fall, we want to make it back in the bunch. Particularly if we were caught in a no-fault-of-our-own stoppage. It's racing. Always has been. Since there were cars. The same goes with Demare at MSR (I know I'm opening a can of worms here :D ). If some idiot makes a mistake, you want to get back. At least get a fighting chance. But it's dangerous.

All pro-riders are nutcases, fearless, ready to take those chances. Even the ones that are supposedly bad at something, i.e. descending, are sick-crazy: we would not be able to follow them. That's (among other reasons) why they do what they do, and we do what we do :eek: .
 
Agreed, it should be enforced more strictly. The riders need protecting from themselves at times, and this is something dangerous that there is a rule already in place to forbid. There's no reason why, in the majority of race situations, the cars can't stay on one side of the road and the riders returning to the peloton on the other side.

I do agree with Tonton as well though, that drafting behind vehicles is something deeply entrenched in the sport. Where I live you see pro teams out training all the time in winter, and quite often you see three or four of them drafting less than a metre behind one of their team cars at around 60km/h - and that is on open roads. The driver just giving a hand signal out of the window when he is turning or slowing down - because the riders are too close to even properly see brake lights and indicators. Certainly easier and cheaper than moto-pacing, but just looks so dangerous.
 
On top of being dangerous, it goes against what I think the sport should be. But it's true the pros think this blatant form of cheating is OK and completely justified, to the point that, in their minds, enforcing the rules would be outrageous and downright cruel.
 
Re:

hrotha said:
On top of being dangerous, it goes against what I think the sport should be. But it's true the pros think this blatant form of cheating is OK and completely justified, to the point that, in their minds, enforcing the rules would be outrageous and downright cruel.
I don't think I understand where you're coming from. Everytime a rider falls behind the caravan he should either quit or be thrown out of the race? Even if it was caused by a crash or something else they had no control over? At least on larger events, with lots od cars, it's pretty much impossible to return to the pack without drafting behind a few cars,
 
Re: Re:

BigMac said:
hrotha said:
On top of being dangerous, it goes against what I think the sport should be. But it's true the pros think this blatant form of cheating is OK and completely justified, to the point that, in their minds, enforcing the rules would be outrageous and downright cruel.
I don't think I understand where you're coming from. Everytime a rider falls behind the caravan he should either quit or be thrown out of the race? Even if it was caused by a crash or something else they had no control over? At least on larger events, with lots od cars, it's pretty much impossible to return to the pack without drafting behind a few cars,
It's not really difficult to avoid drafting from cars, unless there is a strong side wind. Just implement and enforce some basic rules - e.g. cars keep to the right, riders keep to the left. As it is now, riders are continually darting in and out from behind the cars - which both gains an unfair advantage and puts themselves in unnecessary danger.
 
Re:

RedheadDane said:
Are there any rules about minimum distance the riders have to keep to the cars?
Maybe there should be, hopefully it could help with two issues:

1: Limiting the benefits from drafting.

2: Limiting the risks.
Don't think so. The UCI rules are quite vague, they say that any drafting or sheltering behind a car is forbidden - but the penalties are laughable. Something like a 30 CHF fine if its 'briefly' and a 20 second penalty if it is "for some time".

Expulsion only applies in one-day races if they draft 'for some time' and if they have already been warned once.
 
Re: Re:

BigMac said:
hrotha said:
On top of being dangerous, it goes against what I think the sport should be. But it's true the pros think this blatant form of cheating is OK and completely justified, to the point that, in their minds, enforcing the rules would be outrageous and downright cruel.
I don't think I understand where you're coming from. Everytime a rider falls behind the caravan he should either quit or be thrown out of the race? Even if it was caused by a crash or something else they had no control over? At least on larger events, with lots od cars, it's pretty much impossible to return to the pack without drafting behind a few cars,
This is a false dichotomy IMO.
 
Re: Re:

DFA123 said:
RedheadDane said:
Are there any rules about minimum distance the riders have to keep to the cars?
Maybe there should be, hopefully it could help with two issues:

1: Limiting the benefits from drafting.

2: Limiting the risks.
Don't think so. The UCI rules are quite vague, they say that any drafting or sheltering behind a car is forbidden - but the penalties are laughable. Something like a 30 CHF fine if its 'briefly' and a 20 second penalty if it is "for some time".

Expulsion only applies in one-day races if they draft 'for some time' and if they have already been warned once.
Guess that's what it all comes down to... there might be rules but if the punishment is laughable it ain't gonna help much.
 
Re:

DFA123 said:
Agreed, it should be enforced more strictly. The riders need protecting from themselves at times, and this is something dangerous that there is a rule already in place to forbid. There's no reason why, in the majority of race situations, the cars can't stay on one side of the road and the riders returning to the peloton on the other side.

I do agree with Tonton as well though, that drafting behind vehicles is something deeply entrenched in the sport. Where I live you see pro teams out training all the time in winter, and quite often you see three or four of them drafting less than a metre behind one of their team cars at around 60km/h - and that is on open roads. The driver just giving a hand signal out of the window when he is turning or slowing down - because the riders are too close to even properly see brake lights and indicators. Certainly easier and cheaper than moto-pacing, but just looks so dangerous.
The danger is worth the great feeling it gives. Nothing like feeling that draft pulling you along.
 
If it were up to me they'd all be back on fixed gears supporting themselves, so I suppose I'm not the best person to offer an opinion.

I like DFAs idea of keeping the Caravan on one side, but I wonder how practicable it is? I've never been in the caravan so I don't know, but I imagine there is a lot of shuffling about, cars dropping back and regaining position, second cars coming through if there is a team member in a break, race director and doctors coming through. I'm guessing it would be hard to enforce. I think drafting is accepted largely because it's pretty much unavoidable these days. To no allow it would put crashed/riders with mechanicals at an even bigger disadvantage as they would have to wait for cars to stop shuffling, be forced to drop back etc.
 
Twenty votes in, 80% of the vote is firmly in the status quo camp, even given my somewhat opportunistic timing. A bit disappointing from my perspective, but not surprising given that this is cycling we're on about. Solutions to real world problems are usually incomplete and littered with trade-offs, but that shouldn't stop us from striving for improvement. I thought that DFA in particular made a good proposal. On the vast majority of roads, cars to the right seems like a manageable policy. I don't think most GC contenders would have issues rejoining on flat stages, except at the very end, but that's dicey nowadays as well. And it would have the side effect of avoiding the recurring polemica after someone wins a stage in which the've drafted cars for a bit. Furthermore, it might also swing the balance just a little towards more durable high-end components versus aero and lightweight.

Also, you ain't so bad yourself, Tonton. But as DFA said, riders need protecting from themselves at times. As with other risks that riders are willing to take, I don't think this is a risk that's inherently necessary for cycling. it's just a byproduct of the environment and tradition. In this case, by the environment I mean mainly the actual fluid dynamics of the air surrounding support vehicles, but also the pressure to take undue risks in a culture where it becomes a requisite for success.
 
Anything that makes racing safer is a good idea. It's then a matter of practicality. The only "safe" method is for there to be no convoy. But that would not be considered practical for running bike races on public roads.

I have a lot of experience driving in a race convoy, mostly commissaire vehicles.

In general riders making way back is not so bad. It's when they hang on to vehicles to get a pull back that sees comms generally get pretty itchy.

Some convoy drivers though are not as alert/aware as they should be. I'm not a fan of the DS driving, really there should be someone dedicated to the driving task and not needing to do distracting tasks.
 
Re:

Alex Simmons/RST said:
I have a lot of experience driving in a race convoy, mostly commissaire vehicles.

In general riders making way back is not so bad. It's when they hang on to vehicles to get a pull back that sees comms generally get pretty itchy.
Great to have your input on this. But how much of this do you think this is a safety concern and how much is it a racing fairness concern by the commissaires? The thing that really worries me is the Ian Crane / Keagan Girdlestone crashing through the windscreen incidents. Those seem to be near fatal at best. The guys hanging to the side window are definitely putting themselves at risk but it seems to be more of a racing issue than a safety issue when compared to drafting the cars, IMHO.
Alex Simmons/RST said:
Some convoy drivers though are not as alert/aware as they should be. I'm not a fan of the DS driving, really there should be someone dedicated to the driving task and not needing to do distracting tasks.
Oh, this drives me crazy as well. As cycling fans, and often cyclists as well, we should all be for better driving. But at the pinnacle of sport the guys held up as the responsible guys in charge are on the radio while watching TV while driving. Insane. Although I can see where the custom may have surfaced, having a stressed out DS screaming directions at a hapless driver might not completely solve the issue. It would at least make for a better visual and a better example.
 
Re: Re:

RedheadDane said:
carton said:
Just going to post this here.

https://www.facebook.com/TeamDiData/videos/vb.764660530334964/887121221422227/?type=2&theater

Shameless thread-bump aside, glad to see him doing better.
Hey, why don't you post this in the Keagan Girdlestone thread?
Because, as I stated, I was shameless bumping my own thread (with good intentions, I hope) as well as giving everyone a heads up that Keagan seems to be doing better. I think there's enough overlap that it's not entirely uncalled for.
 
On point after AS brought it up: Caravan drafting plus inattentive DS.


And to add another point that was recently brought up, in this case by Ted King on a recent podcast: it's not that pro road cycling has been unlucky recently, but that it's been fairly lucky before then.
 
Re:

Alex Simmons/RST said:
Anything that makes racing safer is a good idea. It's then a matter of practicality. The only "safe" method is for there to be no convoy. But that would not be considered practical for running bike races on public roads.

I have a lot of experience driving in a race convoy, mostly commissaire vehicles.

In general riders making way back is not so bad. It's when they hang on to vehicles to get a pull back that sees comms generally get pretty itchy.

Some convoy drivers though are not as alert/aware as they should be. I'm not a fan of the DS driving, really there should be someone dedicated to the driving task and not needing to do distracting tasks.
From personal experience (but I only rode at NRS level) getting caught in the caravan only gets sketchy when there's been a few riders from different teams all going back at once. This is when you get riders going to different sides of the cars, the caravan is staggered and there isn't always a clear path through. Pacing back onto the bunch without any cars there is often hard, really hard and taking this away would see riders rarely going back, or if at all, in an agreement similar to pee breaks.
 
Good to see this getting enforced. Complain about how unfair it is that you can't get back after a crash all you want, I'd rather that than have it be expected of riders to draft back through the cars on a day like today.
 

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