The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has criticised the use of helicopters to transfer riders from Friday’s Gran Sasso finish to their hotels, saying it “constitutes an advantage that goes against the principles of fair play regulatory provisions for ensuring equal treatment for transfer of teams to their hotels” and the UCI’s “principle of carbon footprint reduction”
The UCI said (opens in new tab) they “will take necessary measures and sanctions to ensure that such a practice does not occur in the future.” They did not specify what the measures and sanctions will be.
Stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia finished at Gran Sasso d’Italia, high in the central Apennine mountains. Most riders took a cable car down from the 2130 metre high finish to their team buses for a long transfer to their hotels spread across the Abruzzo region.
However, Soudal-QuickStep showed on social media how team leader Remco Evenepoel and several teammates took a helicopter to their hotel, reportedly arriving two hours earlier than if they had used the cable car and team bus.
According to reports Bora-Hansgrohe and Bahrain Victorious also used a helicopter to leave the Gran Sasso finish area. The three teams reportedly paid race organiser RCS Sport to use their helicopters for the flight.
Ineos Grenadiers riders were seen using the cable car with the public, while Filippo Ganna travelled down the mountain in a team car.
Some riders came out to publicly criticise the provision of transport from the race finish. Groupama-FDJ rider Ignatas Konovalovas tweeted (opens in new tab), “No no no, we could go with cars or a bike down (~45min by car i would guess). The cable cars WERE NOT RESERVED for riders by organization. Every team that got there had to fight against others, specially organization or the cable car workers let’s say.”
He later added, “And that is not the way to deal and treat riders after 6:30h stage +2 h drive to the next hotel.”
Teams often use helicopters for transfers from mountain finishes. The helicopters are often those used by races for VIP flights and guests or privately arranged.
A fleet of helicopters at the Tour de France are used to allow VIP guests to see the race from the sky. However, the Tour de France has dissuaded teams from using helicopter flights in recent years for fair play reasons.
The UCI said using helicopters “goes against the principles of fair play and equity, the fundamental values of sport.”
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