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Questions over whether Owain Doull's injuries were caused by disc rotor

Josh Cunningham
24 Feb 2017

Marcel Kittel stops using disc brakes, despite evidence to suggest it wasn't his bike that caused Owain Doull's injuries

A crash in yesterday's Abu Dhabi Tour stage left both Team Sky's Owain Doull and Quickstep Floor's Marcel Kittel on the ground, with the former suffering injuries that he claimed were caused by the disc brake rotors on Kittel's bike. 

But with any number of conjectural arguments and scraps of evidence having entered the discussion since those initial claims, it appears that the truth might not be as clear cut as the slice through Doull's shoe. 

'Fortunately for me the disc brake went through my shoe and not my leg,' Doull said in a tweet with an accompanying image of what appears to be a sliced shoe, explicitly stating that it was the disc to blame. 

But commentators on Twitter have been quick to pore over the evidence, and produced a case that says the disc rotors on Kittel's bike might not have been at fault for the injuries Doull sustained. 


The above screenshots from video footage of the crash shoes clear space between Doull and Kittel at the time they came down. But with the damage being done to Doull's left foot, it seems likely that it was Kittel's bike, to the right of Doull, that would have done the damage.

Doull also crashes into the barrier, and photos of the sharp, rusty eges on the support legs have been pointed at as the most probable guilty candidate. The brown smear above the gash would certainly suggest so. 

But many other riders had been quick to point the finger of blame at the discs, uncovering the already-gaping wound that the introduction of disc brakes to the peloton has caused - figuratively speaking anyway, if not always literally. 

As such, Kittel has opted to start stage two on a regular rim-brake bike, saying the decision was 'out of respect for my colleagues.'

'The most important thing here is that we as riders stick together and have one voice. We should have discussions about it, opinions will be different, but I can understand if there might be a mental problem at the moment and I don’t want to pour oil on that fire.'

Kittel also highlighted the sheer carnage of a crash at high speeds, and that realistically nobody involved could precisely say what happened during the decisive moments, with bodies and bikes flying in every direction. 

'I think in the end nobody can really tell. I can understand that directly after a race, when you crash and are emotional, the easiest thing to do was to blame disc brakes. Afterwards on social media there was also good and strong evidence that it was maybe not the case,' he said in relation to the aforementioned arguments.

'But it’s not up to me to decide. The UCI has said that this a period for testing disc brakes. They also have to take all the proof that is there, and decide what the real reason was. I think that’s an important thing to do. We should not lose each other in discussions about safety.'

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