Remco Evenepoel – Belgian, recently turned 20 – is to cycling as the young Lionel Messi was to football: a phenomenon that is born every thirty years. And his Deceuninck-Quick Step is equivalent to Bayern Munich: a very rich, very powerful team that for two decades has won everything that can be won, trailing behind a trail of envy and poisons. It is therefore normal that the short clip shot by Rai and broadcast on Tuesday from Corriere della Sera made huge noise on the web.
The images – shot precisely from the helicopter of our state TV during the Giro di Lombardia – show Remco on the ground after the terrible downhill fall from Colma di Sormano and – above all – his sports director, Davide Bramati, who together with the race helps the athlete, in very serious conditions: Remco broke his pelvis but before the arrival of the doctors – given the height of the fall from the road bridge – it was easy to imagine a more tragic situation.
The mystery of the video
There are three seconds of that video that leave us rather perplexed: with a decisive attitude – and one could say with a certain coldness – Bramati slips his hand into the back pocket of Remco’s shirt, extracts a white object, the size of a Telepass, and he quickly puts it in his pocket instead of leaving it on the ground, as he actually would have done with a gel pack. In that pocket, the cyclists in the race keep only bars and gels. So what is that “white box”? Asked by Courier service Tuesday morning, the Lombard sports director (one of the most successful and qualified in world professionalism) did not provide an answer, asking to be able to consult the team’s press officer. The answer, after a second prompt, arrived in the late afternoon: in Remco’s pocket there were energy bars and gels that Bramati removed to facilitate the athlete’s support on the stretcher. But the “box” of the video, in terms of shape and color, does not seem to have anything to do with an energy supplement.
What would a modem do?
The web went wild proposing a series of answers. Among the many confused and infamous, one that is compatible with logic prevails: it could be a 4G modem. What use (conditional obligation) would a modem be used in a runner’s pocket? To make the communication between the flagship and the rider make a huge leap in quality, to send him messages, to monitor his parameters in the race and those of his teammates in order to indicate the best strategy. The Deceuninck-Quick Step, among other things, is the only professional team to use a fully interactive handlebar computer system that can interface to the web without a smartphone as a bridge but, in fact, using the Wifi signal of a modem. What’s the problem with the modem? That the international federation does not authorize its use, limiting communications to radio only and only in certain races. The guiding principle of the regulation (shared or not) is to avoid that the riders are “remote controlled” by their sports directors or external strategists and that any hackers (even hired by this or that team) can capture the data of all the athletes in the race , identify those in difficult conditions and – for example – make the wingmen work to put them in difficulty. This on the theoretical level: there is the certainty that at least two great cycling teams in the past have tried to use systems of this type (based however on short telemetry and not on 4G) and have ceased the experiments for fear of sanctions. Obviously, nobody can affirm or prove that Evenepoel’s pocket was a modem. It is difficult, however, to argue that it was an energy bar: a more precise explanation would help everyone.
26 August 2020 (change August 26, 2020 | 12:31)
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