'UCI penalising the way we race with fines,’ says Alex Dowsett

More riders have been sanctioned after they failed to wear team kit during the sign-on

Alex Dowsett was one of the riders fined at the UAE Tour (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI is penalising the way pro riders race by issuing fines over sign-on presentations, according to Alex Dowsett.

Dowsett was one of 26 other riders were fined for signing on late for stage three of the UAE Tour.

More riders were fined after stage four, having attended the starting sheet ceremony while wearing non-racing kit earlier in the day.

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Katusha-Alpecin’s Dowsett, who was fined 500 Swiss Francs (£377) and deducted 20 UCI Points, told Cycling Weekly: "I disagree with taking UCI points off of us.

“That means that I’m probably in negative figures already and it’s penalising the way that we race for the fact that we didn’t sign on at the right time.

“It’s just unnecessary.”

Dowsett was one of 27 riders from Katusha-Alpecin, UAE Team Emirates, Groupama-FDJ and Astana that were reprimanded for missing their allotted sign on time.

Riders fined include Marcel Kittel and Dowsett from Katusha, Alexander Kristoff and Fernando Gaviria from UAE Team Emirates, and Gorka Izagirre from Astana.

Katusha were 34 minutes late to sign on, UAE 30 minutes, Groupama 21 minutes and Astana 14 minutes.

The fines for late sign-ons before stage three were followed by more punishments for the seven Bahrain-Merida riders racing the UAE Tour.

Ahead of stage four the riders, including Rohan Dennis and Vincenzo Nibali, attended the sign-on ceremony not wearing their race clothing.

They were all fined 500 Swiss Francs, along with their team manager.

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Dowsett added: “I think the problem is logistically we’re sometimes having to drive quite a distance to get to the start.

“Then we have to do a team meeting, and doing that in a tent with exposed walls with Quick-Step sat right next to us isn’t ideal.

"But if we don’t do that we have to do it before we leave, which means we have to get up an hour earlier, which isn’t right either because we have to recover.

“Teams that are getting a late sign on don’t have to. Penalising us for that financially, it’s quite a lot of money. Whoever gets the money has made a small fortune.”

He added that teams with a later sign-on time effectively get more time to sleep, and therefore recover.

UCI rules state that race organisers can set the order for riders to sign a starting sheet before each stage.

The signing on ceremony takes place one hour and 10 minutes before the start time for the stage, and will end 10 minutes before the race kicks off.

Bora-Hansgohe’s Pete Kennaugh, whose team were not involved, also spoke out against the UCI, calling the rules “out of control.”

Dowsett said: “If it’s that’s important, tell us it’s super important that we respect the time zones – it seems unnecessarily harsh.

“If it’s that important, we’ll make our best efforts but let’s find something that’s more reasonable.”

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.