The UCI changed the rules on discarding bottles during races, following complaints from riders.
On April 1, cycling’s governing body introduced instant disqualifications for riders caught discarding litter outside of designated zones in one-day races.
But following the disqualification of Michael Schär in the Tour of Flanders, the rule changes caused uproar amongst the pro peloton, with riders complaining that they would not be able to gift bottles to fans at the side of the road.
Following the complaints, the UCI held a video conference with representatives from both the men’s and women’s peloton on Wednesday (April 14), which resulted in a change in the rules.
The UCI said that throwing bottles to members of the public will still be illegal, because of concerns the action could cause crashes, but riders will now be given fines and point deductions for first offences.
President of the UCI, David Lappartient, said: “The implementation of measures in 2021 aiming to reinforce rider safety is the object of careful assessment, and the UCI has pursued its consultations with all concerned.
“Following these numerous exchanges with the different stakeholders, it was judged appropriate to adapt the sanctions for the new rules concerning the discarding of bottles and waste outside dedicated litter zones. The UCI is pleased that a solution acceptable to all parties could be found, which maintains the essential: the safety of riders and the public and cycling’s environmental responsibility.”
As of April 1, riders caught throwing bidons outside of designated litter zones were disqualified from one-day races or given a time penalty in stages races.
But following complaints from riders and the rider unions, the UCI has agreed to change the rules, with changes likely to be implemented from Saturday, April 17.
Under the new rules, riders throwing bottles in one-day races will be punished through a fine and a deduction of UCI points for the first offence, followed by a disqualification for a second incident.
In stage races, the first offence will result in a fine and a deduction of UCI points for the rider, the second incident will result in a one-minute time penalty, while a third infringement will lead to disqualification.
Riders raised concerns around handing bottles to fans as gifts, a common practice in races as young fans eagerly stand at the roadside hoping for a token from their favourite stars.
But the UCI has held firm on its decision to ban this practice, saying: “Throwing bottles to the public, in particular, is a proven danger both for the riders and the public – on multiple occasions, crashes have been caused by bottles thrown to spectators and coming back onto the road, and spectators have been injured by bottles thrown by riders into the public.
“Moreover, the UCI wants to avoid fans, notably children, trying to get close to riders during races, to avoid accidents with potentially dramatic consequences (collision with riders or vehicles in the race caravan for example).”