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Beat Cycling rider Jan-Willem van Schip has been disqualified from the Baloise Belgium Tour after using handlebar set-up in contravention of UCI technical regulations.
The Dutch rider was in the breakaway on Friday’s third stage, winning the most combative rider prize, and attracted attention for his curious handlebar setup, which allowed for forearm support while riding, a position outlawed by the UCI on April 1.
The Speeco Aero Breakaway handlebars, which were designed with Van Schip and which feature a 70mm stem with a long and flat moulded bar, were cleared for use prior to the stage start by UCI commissaires, but the UCI’s technical committee later decided to reverse course having seen television footage of Van Schip during the stage.
“Beat Cycling has learned with great surprise of the disqualification of Jan-Wllem van Schip in the Baloise Belgium Tour after the third stage,” the team wrote in a statement on social media. “The disqualification is based on the ABB handlebar that Jan-Willem used during the stage and which, according to the UCI statement, are allowed.
“We do not understand this decision. Since the launch of the ABB handlebar, we have been discussing this with the UCI. Never the UCI informed us that the handlebar would not be allowed. The UCI has also seen no need to accept the offer of the developer of the ABB handlebar to further investigate the admissibility.
“On the morning before the start of the third stage, we even discussed our intentions to ride with the handlebar with the UCI commissaire on site. Here we got the green light to start with the ABB. The UCI has not made any reservations about this. Beat believes that the disqualification is unjustified and that Jan-Willem van Schip is seriously affected.”
Christophe Impens, managing director of the Baloise Belgium Tour’s organisers Golazo Sports, told Sporza that he was sorry to see Van Schip disqualified and confirmed that the UCI commissaires had previously OK’d the bars.
“This morning before the stage, Van Schip’s handlebars were still approved by a UCI commissioner,” he said. “But from Aigle, the UCI has rejected that handlebar based on the TV footage.
“As an organiser, we are sorry to lose Van Schip from our race. He is a colourful figure. But if the UCI decides that his handlebars are not regulation, then we have to follow that decision.”
26-year-old Van Schip, a track rider who hit the headlines in 2018 after using tiny 32cm handlebars on the road, made the break of the day on stage 3 to Scherpenheuvel-Zichem, eventually finishing in 35th place behind stage winner Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal). Stage 3 was the first time he had used the bars in competition.
Later in the day, Trek-Segafredo rider Ryan Mullen was among the riders to query his use of the bars. The Irishman took to Twitter to express his frustration that the bars had been approved, saying, “UCI: ‘Your socks are 1cm too high’. UCI: ‘If you throw away your bottle to a fan you get sentenced to death’. Also UCI: ‘Yeah go ahead and use these in a 150 rider bunch…'”
Alpecin-Fenix rider Jonas Rickaert also complained, writing: “Arms on top of the handlebar, but this is okay? Please UCI Cycling do something with this…”
Riders using forearms to support themselves on the handlebars was outlawed back in April along with the much-discussed littering/bidon throwing ban and the ‘super-tuck’ descending position
Section 2.2.025 of the UCI regulation states that: ‘Furthermore, using the forearms as a point of support on the handlebar is prohibited except in time trials’. In fact, in a recent UCI technical presentation, an image of Van Schip and the bars was used as an example of an outlawed position.