Topic #1: Sticky Bottle Stupidity
Watching various live coverage over the last few months it's occurred to me time and again that the infamous sticky bottle has jumped the shark in relevance. Now, I'm not saying that getting an assist from time to time isn't acceptable, especially on climbs if one is truly fetching bottles and the like, but now we see riders coming back for a chat and getting said hard surge of asssistance for no reason at all. Perhaps the most flagrant example is when they take it even while sitting directly behind the lead commisaire's car...within meters of the field! Such was the situation today at the TOC, several times!
So what does the UCI say? Oddly, nothing specific in the technical guide for road racing, although there are some interesting tidbits like 2.3.030 - "The greasing of chains from a moving vehicle shall be forbidden." or 2.3.031 - No equipment for riders may be prepared or held ready outside the following vehicle. Persons riding in vehicles shall ot reach or lean out." - but not much on Sticky Bottle Syndrome.
Speaking of Sticky Bottles....quick google search lead me to Sticky Bottle.com ...which is an Irish racing site that gives an almost admirable definition of it's name sake:
A stickybottle, put simply, is the knackered cyclist’s best friend. As a rider is being dropped from a group, the team manager or support worker in a following car holds a bottle out the window to hand it up. As the handover is taking place, the rider grabs the bottle tight, as does whoever is handing it up, enabling the rider get a good tow and push from momentum of the car. It’s known as a stickybottle because it appears neither the rider nor the person handing it up is able to take their hand off the bottle; it looks stuck to their hands. But please don’t try this at home. We’ve been slyly cheating this way all our lives; it takes a while to perfect.
I like that they refer to its application for a 'knackered' rider - and that seems somewhat reasonable..but somewhere it got lost in translation as it's now become derigeur for most every situation where a rider may be at the cars. So, who's to blame? I dunno, but I'm guessing it's with the Directors. Most are former riders who, having been on the edge innumerable times, may justify their actions as merely trying to help their riders stay in contention, but really in the classical application it's to try and gain an advatage, any advantage, that might pay off later, and in the modern iteration it seems merely a slap in the face of tradition and the rules.
So is it part of the tradtion - if I want to argue that, probably need some evidence right? There's a great scene in "Stars and Watercarriers" about twenty minutes in where a rider is dropping back to the medical car - a legitimate need certainly - except rather than grab the car and go for a ride, he rides along side and waits patiently for the ointment. This is followed by several scenes of riders in various states of conversation at team cars and none gets assistance. About 37 minutes into "Hell on Wheels" there is a segment about going back to the cars and you see a Saeco rider toting something like 14 bottles and he takes a couple of lingering holds, but it just seems different - and that's because the car doesn't jam on the gas to add a couple of miles an hour. Check it out from 36:00 on...
Contrast that with the coverage of late...grab a bottle and get a free acceleration! "But today's races are faster!"...uh, not that much, or really at all actually according to VeloFacts.com. (I may have a new favorite blog btw!)
So I'm going on the war path over Sticky Bottles...they've become almost as much an embarrassment as open jerseys...