Pro rider slams Shimano, claims she was denied neutral service assistance at World Championship road race

A professional cyclist forced out of yesterday’s elite women’s road race at the UCI World Championships in Glasgow has hit out at Shimano after claiming she was denied neutral assistance after a puncture.

Christine Majerus, who represented Luxembourg at the race, hit out at the company in an Instagram post, urging her followers, “Don’t buy Shimano.”

The 36-year-old, who has won 14 road titles and 17 time trials, said in a post on the social network: “If I had known I would have stayed home. Terrible carbon footprint for just 10km of racing. 2023 continues to be a terrible season of injuries, illness and bad luck. Yesterday was just one of those days (again).”

She wrote that while under normal circumstances a puncture at the start of a race would not be a major problem, the nature of yesterday’s race meant that for her, “the race was done before it even started”.

Majerus said one problem was a “(very) huge peloton” – 203 riders lined up at the start at Loch Lomond – with another being complications with support vehicles because it was an event contested by national teams rather than trade groups.

More than 70 countries were represented, with three riders from Luxembourg taking part and his support vehicle shared with a trio of riders from Ukraine – one of whom had crashed shortly before, meaning the car was not available to provide assistance to Majerus when she needed it.

Her main anger, however, was reserved for Shimano’s neutral service, and she claimed that its staff had ignored her request for a wheel change.

The Japan-based parts company has provided neutral services to the sport since 2001 at many major races, including, from 2021, the Tour de France after Mavic took over that race, and its blue cars are a typical sight in the peloton.

> What the hell is a neutral service in the Tour de France?

In addition to wheel and bike changes when the team cars are unavailable for whatever reason, his mechanics also provide food and drink to the riders when needed.

But in the same way that you only see insurance covered in the press when a policyholder goes to the media to complain that a claim has been denied, the neutral service only seems to grab the headlines when something goes wrong.

A high-profile example involving Shimano is Cadel Evans, who was leading the 2009 Vuelta when an agonizingly slow neutral wheel change saw him lose time to eventual winner Alejandro Valverde.

More recently, at last month’s Tour de France, Bora-Hansgrohe rider Nils Politt was caught on camera showing his frustration when, after breaking his chain while on break, he tried three separate bikes offered by the neutral service. engineer, neither of which were suitable due to a combination of frame sizes that were too small for him and a pedal system that was incompatible with his shoes. Eventually, he had to wait for his team car to arrive – then the main peloton, never mind the break, was well ahead of him.

> Furious Nils Politt snaps the chain, suffers comical road bike application with THREE neutral service bikes

In her Instagram post about her travails yesterday, Majerus wrote: “I usually don’t complain openly when things don’t go my way and anyway who knows how things could have turned out and that’s totally not my thing .

“Mostly I give my best and get what I deserve for it. I can live with failure, as much as I could try. Yesterday I just felt extremely unfair because I couldn’t even try.

“I know that not everyone can have the number 1 car and that no other nation was willing to offer me a service (thanks, Switzerland at least thought about it, but then… no) but I always thought that’s why the ugly blues are there cars.

“But apparently it’s only there for advertising and adding another 5+ cars to the already very large motorcade. Why are you there if you’re not helping?

“As soon as I changed bikes I knew it was over,” Majerus continued. “The helicopters were miles away, I was out of the convoy and only coming back to riders who fell. I was driving until the jury took us out and that was it.”

She added a series of apologies, including to her teammates and staff members, her coach and even her niece – “president of my little fan club who now has to refund his members (only 2 so no and very badly)’ – before finishing it. post with the words, “Don’t buy Shimano.”

Yesterday’s race was won by Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky, who when not representing her country rides for the same SD Worx team as Majerus, who was part of her Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift line-up last month, was won by her team – friend Demi Vollering, second yesterday – and supplied by SRAM, which at least means her heartfelt post won’t lead to awkward conversations with equipment sponsors.

> Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky completes a stunning season by winning the World Championship road race

We’ve reached out to Shimano Europe for comment.

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