I hate the sticky bottle thing. I truly hate it. I see no reason why officials have decided to look the other way and let riders take hand slings just because they have a water bottle between them and the car/director. It’s turned into a way to tow when riders are getting shelled off the back.
Most the time the “sticky bottle” thing doesn’t affect the race the least. It is just a way to save the riders that minute amount of energy getting back up to the field when they’ve dropped back to talk or get bottles. But, there are times when it makes a huge difference. The deal is that the directors in the car accelerate when the rider grabs the bottle. And this is nearly always done on the slow part of a climb. So a 5-10 mph acceleration at a critical moment can make a huge difference in a lot of situations.
Last year at Joe Martin, right before the top of Mt. Gaylor, I flatted. I got a wheel from SRAM neutral support. It wasn’t quick. It was a wicked headwind up the climb and down the descent. I was nearly out of the back of the caravan by the time I got rolling. So, there are huge gaps between cars and the cars are passing me at 50 when I’m descending at 35. I’m completely maxed, pedaling downhill, when Garmin U23 guy comes blowing by me, holding onto a bottle, going 20 mph faster. And there was a motorcycle official right beside me when the guy went by. It was total bullshit.
I see no reason to tow off a car, ever. I don’t care if a guy falls and thinks he needs medical attention. If the rider needs medical attention, then he needs to stop and get medical attention. Actually, I don’t really think it’s necessary to do hand ups from the car, ever. The feed zone is an important part of the race. I think each rider needs to get his own liquids/feeds at the assigned feed zones during the stage. That is what they are there for. During many US stage races, a lot of the teams don’t have follow cars, so it is truly an unfair advantage of the teams with directors, etc. Plus, a lot of the accidents that occur in stage racing happen when the riders are back, mixed up in the caravan. It isn’t a good place to be, for any reason. It is dangerous and for that reason alone, it shouldn’t be encouraged.
So, here’s another thing that the UCI and USAC needs to address. Obviously the riders think that it’s okay, so the only way it’s going to disappear is if someone from the governing bodies address it.