If you watch pro cycling, you’ve undoubtedly seen the “sticky bottle.” The move, also known in French as a “bidon collé,” is something that almost every pro cyclist will use during a race. Simply put, when a rider heads back to their team car to grab a bidon from their director, they hold onto it for just a little too long. Then, they push against it to gain a brief burst of speed.
TDF Dumoulin got a time penalty for drafting his own team car for 20 secs. Roglic takes a sticky bottle in the last 20km when he’s already got 2 bottles on his bike and this is fine. He freewheels and speeds up to about 6kmh 😂 #Giro #stickybottle #Roglic #giroditalia2019 pic.twitter.com/6A56wJ74uf
— Martin Lonie (@Chipolonie) May 26, 2019
The same could be used for grabbing a vest, jacket, or food. Grip whatever it is you’re getting a little longer and leverage it to get a little push.
How to cheat in a bike race with the stickiest bottle you’ll ever see
There’s also the “magic spanner” maneuver, which can give a rider a little break when they are suffering. This move involves a mechanic in a team car pretending to do repairs on a rider’s bike, effectively providing assistance by pulling them along with the vehicle. (Hey, even a few minutes can give some tired legs a huge help.)
In light of Nibali’s epic power bottle here is one of my favorite “Pro’s holding onto a car” pics pic.twitter.com/xbzsk28X60
— Race Radio (@TheRaceRadio) August 23, 2015
Commissaires are well aware of both moves, so the question is: How long is a sticky bottle too sticky? When should a cyclist become unglued? Although race judges often refrain from penalizing the rider, there is typically a time limit of two seconds that is enforced. Any more than that, and there will be consequences. However, Vincenzo Nibali was disqualified from the 2015 La Vuelta a España due to a gummy flask. More recently, Elisa Balsamo had a flat during the 2022 Paris-Roubaix with only 48 km to go. Out of desperation to get back on, she held onto the bottle from her team vehicle. It’s a hail mary that cyclists don’t want to take, but given their situation, can happen. Although Balsamo was in the thick of the race, some riders who are simply trying to make the time cut figure it’s worth the gambit. If there’s nothing left to lose, why not go for it?
Elisa Balsamo was disqualified for this sticky bottle in today’s Paris-Roubaix Femmes. Do you think the commissaires made the right…
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