6.8kg bikes, unauthorized feeds, puppy paws — here are the silliest UCI rules that should be done away with

The UCI sets rules to keep the sport safe and fair but some of them are outdated, unbalanced or simply silly

CW Asks - UCI Rules
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"CW asks" is a feature series where our seasoned staff answers a range of questions. The series isn't just about delivering knowledge; it's a chance for us to share a bit of our personality and our passion with you. As we dive into some questions, please feel free to send in some questions of your own to anne.rook@futurenet.com

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Question 12:  What is the silliest UCI rule that should be done away with?

Vern Pitt, News and Features Editor

Arnaud DEMARE gets a talking to by a commissaireVern Pitt

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There's probably a right answer to this but I think the bigger point is the application of the rules which is usually where the trouble arises. There always needs to be discretion from the commissaires but at the moment that goes so far as to allow some highly inconsistent application. 

I'm not sure how you fix that; that's UCI president David Lappartient's job, but I'd guess a higher level of professionalization of the commissaires would probably be a start.

Hannah Bussey, Technical Writer

Bike checkhannah hussey

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There really are a lot. I’ll pick the generic one of bike mass — 6.8kg is just a superfluous, outdated rule. The UCI could literally pick any number for this and it would still have the same impact on ‘safety’. 

For the rule to apply to all bikes, all disciplines and all sizes is just nonsense and arbitrary. Safety isn’t to do with weight, and neither is ‘level playing field’. When it comes to led weights, or chain down seat tubes having to be retrospectively added to bikes to get them to the minimal weight requirement you realise just how bonkers the regulation is. You could argue that regulating rider power would be a better leveller, and attach mini parachutes to stronger riders to make it ‘fair’. 

This rule just suppresses technology, and arguably the advancement of safety and penalises smaller riders 

There’s no rational reason why this should be applied other than because the UCI says so. 

Anna Abram, Fitness Features Editor

Matteo Trentin of Italy and UAE Team Emirates speaks with team radio during the 106th Gran Piemonte 2022Anna Abram Fitness Features

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I wouldn’t call it silly, but the amendment I would make comes under ‘In-race communications 2.2.024’. Whereas currently the UCI allows race radios, with the stipulation that ‘the power of the transceiver may not exceed 5 watts, I’d be interested in scrapping this rule and banning race radios completely.

I wouldn’t want to claim that this would definitely make the racing more explosive and attacking - I’m not totally sure how the WT teams would really respond. But even if the riding does, for some reason, become more defensive as a result, I still think that the information asymmetry would add an extra layer to the race.

It’s one thing chasing down a rider when you’ve got a voice in your ear giving the time gap every few seconds, dangling the carrot right in front of you. It’s quite another when you have no idea how much longer you have to push and whether the gap is closing at all - I think it would really add an extra dimension to the races.

Joe Baker, Tech Writer

A UCI commissaire talks to Marianne Vos after disqualification during the 2022 Vargarda road race for riding in the 'puppy paws' positionJoe Baker

A UCI commissaire talks to Marianne Vos after disqualification during the 2022 Vargarda road race for riding in the 'puppy paws' position

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The 'puppy paws' position is a clear juxtaposition of safety in our sport. Professionals at the top of cycling are more than capable of balancing their forearms on the top of the handlebars — there is no question. 

The annoyance at the UCI for me comes from the fact that there is no ruling around 'head down' riding positions. Stefan Kung's horror crash in the European Time Trial Championships was a grave example. It's one thing on the track, where you might be able to follow a sprint line by looking through your forearms, but on the road, riders need to see where they are going, and the ruling should on riders awareness, not doubting their bike handling abilities.

Tom Davidson - News and Features Writer

Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Quick-Step - Alpha Vinyl picks bottles from a team soigneur during the 34th Tour de l'Ain 2022 - Stage 3Cycling Weekly writer Tom Davidson riding on Zwift indoors

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I've always felt the rules around "unauthorised feeding" are particularly harsh. According to the UCI rule book, riders are forbidden from taking on food or drink in the first 30km or the final 20km of a race. Can you imagine being caught short? 

The fines can be hefty, too. If a rider takes a bidon in the last 20km of a one-day race, the UCI charges them CHF 1,000 (£900 / $1,100).

There are also tough time penalties. At the 2020 Tour de France, Julian Alaphilippe took an "illegal bottle" with 17km to go on stage five. He was docked 20 seconds and lost the yellow jersey. All for a swig of water. 

Got questions silly or serious you'd like for us to tackle?  Please send your questions to anne.rook@futurenet.com

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