Industry group rebuts pro rider disc-brake injury claims

Forensic doctor reports on 2016 Paris-Roubaix injury

Have disc brakes injured professional road racers? Representing the bike industry, the WFSGI (World Federation Sporting Goods Industry) released a statement Friday arguing that two lacerations to pro riders attributed to brake rotors were probably not in fact caused by rotors. 

The carefully worded statement did not come out and say disc brake rotors are perfectly safe, but it did include detailed reports from a forensic doctor and a bike accident investigator on the Paris-Roubaix rider Francisco Ventoso incident, both of which supported the theory that a chainring and not a disc brake rotor caused the laceration to Ventoso's left leg. 

"Twice within the last 10 months riders and other stakeholders of the cycling sport accused disc brakes of having caused injuries to a rider or their material. The WFSGI has taken these complaints very seriously and investigated both accidents in order to have a clarification before making any statement," the WFSGI statement reads, referring to the Ventoso accident at the 2016 Paris-Roubaix and the Owain Doull accident at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour

The WFSGI presented the study of forensic doctor Ulrich Zollinger, which includes photos of recreations of the described event. Along with the annotations, the photos show the unlikelihood of a disc rotor cutting Ventoso's leg in the manner he said it did.

Read Zollinger's report here

Swiss forensics doctor Ulrich Zollinger recreated the crash Francisco Ventoso described that resulted in a laceration to his left leg. Ventoso said he did not come off of his own bike
Swiss forensics doctor Ulrich Zollinger recreated the crash Francisco Ventoso described that resulted in a laceration to his left leg. Ventoso said he did not come off of his own bike

The WFSGI also presented the study of bicycle accident investigator Dirk Zedler, which came to the same basic conclusion.

Read Zedler's report here

As the case of Doull is newer, the WFSGI does not yet have similar studies for this accident, in which Doull said another rider's rotor sliced his shoe and his foot.

Cycling's governing body, the UCI, has created a disc brake review group consisting of representatives from the pro peloton, the bike industry and the UCI to smooth out the literal and metaphorical edges on disc brakes in pro racing. 

Zollinger also analyzed Ventoso's wound with various illustrations in his published report
Zollinger also analyzed Ventoso's wound with various illustrations in his published report

"Today our industry has sold already more than 15 million disc brake bikes to the public market. Most of these products are sold for MTB or cyclo-cross, city use, but also the number of products sold for road racing is growing rapidly," the WFSGI statement reads. "The argument that pro racing is different than amateur racing or the commercial market is absolutely heard by the industry as well. Nevertheless, a fair chance of a testing period should be acceptable given all above facts.The WFSGI will continue to work closely with the UCI, CPA and AIGCP in order to make a smooth introduction of disc brakes into professional road racing." 

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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