After my blog to eliminate team vehicles, I got some questions about how feasible this would be and whether it was fair that a simple mechanical could affect the outcome of the race.
To start with the latter, it would be my view that any rule that applies equally to each rider is per definition fair. Of course such a rule increases the chance a one-time event changes the outcome of the whole race, but is that materially different from a crash in stage 1 that takes out one of the favorites?
It really just extends the concept of what it takes to win. You already need mental, physical and equipment preparation today, we merely expand on the equipment preparation to increase the focus on durability and reliability. Plus, there will still be neutral support which could even include spare bikes.
As to the feasibility from a product point of view, I can only speak from my past experience at Cervelo. Cervelo has participated in Paris-Roubaix nine times, and everybody knows it is the toughest race for the equipment. Yet we have never broken a frame, or any other part for that matter. So it is certainly possible to develop equipment that lasts.
Maybe we are in a slightly unique situation because we always use the same frame for the pro team and the “regular” consumer, so durability is always a priority even if it’s not critical for the pros. This is less the case for manufacturers that make special frames for their sponsored teams, and unfortunately there are a lot of those.
Obviously this practice would change, or at least the focus of the design of such bikes would change, which to me is another benefit of the proposal – the bike you see on TV would then actually be closer to the one you can buy in the store for all the brands. No more superlight frames in the races and as halo models while the actual frame in the store weighs a ton.