REDON, France, July 4, 2011 (AFP) – World cycling chiefs have hit back at professional team managers Johan Bruyneel and Jonathan Vaughters after the pair complained about technical checks on riders’ saddles at the Tour de France.
The saddles of several teams taking part in the race’s team time trial on stage two Sunday were checked by experts from the International Cycling Union (UCI) technical committee.
It emerged that some were deemed not fully horizontal, and thus did not conform to the rules, and were altered by UCI experts minutes prior to the race.
UCI road cycling official Philippe Chevallier said: “It was a pure and simple case of bending the rules.”
The move prompted anger, notably from RadioShack manager Bruyneel and Garmin chief Vaughters, whose team won the stage to hand Thor Hushovd the yellow jersey.
The UCI on Monday affirmed that all teams had been forewarned of the measure in good time prior to the July 2-24 race.
“The UCI consider the behavior of some individuals, notably M. Bruyneel and M. Vaughters, totally unacceptable,” said the UCI’s press spokesman Enrico Carpani.
“They believe it’s up to them to oppose a measure which is part of our regulations.
“Teams had the chance to consult our technical expert, Julien Carron, for two days at the Criterium du Dauphine (stage race). They were then informed that all technical specifications would come under scrutiny at the Tour de France.”
Belgian Bruyneel, who led Lance Armstrong to all of his record seven wins on the race, and Australian Brad McGee, a sporting director with Saxo Bank, were both handed 200 Swiss franc (150 euros) fines after stage two.
Their sanction was for “inappropriate behavior towards race officials in the technical zone”, according to the UCI.
Due to disagreement over a number of issues in professional cycling, relations between the UCI and some teams, notably RadioShack, Saxo Bank, Garmin and Liquigas, are strained.
Some team managers have previously voiced their support for a cycling league independent of the UCI and have threatened to boycott the Tour of Beijing at the start of October.
The Chinese race is the latest addition to the UCI calendar, however it could be used as a pawn as team managers continue their opposition to the UCI’s plan to gradually phase out the use of two-way radios in the peloton.