Lance Should be Glad that Time Trial Helmets Must Protect Riders' Heads

I haven't been doing as much reading as I normally do during the run up to the Tour de France. Most of you who read Operation Gadget regularly know that we moved last week and we're still unpacking.

In spite of my preoccupation, I saw the news about Lance Armstrong's training crash on his time trial bike. Velonews reported that Armstrong, "lost control on his time-trial bike and sailed over the handlebars, his helmet splitting in two on impact." Most people who wrote about the crash focused on the black eye and road rash that Lance supposedly got as a result of the accident.

The thing I want to focus on is the UCI's improved time trial helmet standards which went into effect at last year's Tour de France. Lennard Zinn of Velonews discussed the new standard in an article during last year's Tour, calling the time trial helmets used prior to 2004 "little more than thin plastic fairings with straps."

Armstrong probably would have been much more seriously injured in this crash if he had been wearing an old style time trial helmet. An injury that caused him problems at the beginning of the Tour would have disappointed his American fans and undermined the plans of his major sponsors. I can't even imagine what would have taken place if this "silly crash" had resulted in a head injury serious enough to cause Lance to abandon his last Tour title defense.

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