1. Tightening of rules on clothing
After the controversy Team Sky’s time trial skinsuits last year, there has been plenty of discussion around what constitutes a marginal gain and what bridges into unfair advantage.
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With that in mind, the UCI are updating guidance on rider’s clothing for the 2019.
The new regulation says that clothing cannot change the ‘morphology’ (shape) of a rider and bans any non-essential clothing or device other than for protection.
Changes to this rule effectively clarify existing rules from 2018 about clothes not being adapted for any purpose other than clothing or safety.
The 2019 rules say that changes to clothing surface are allowed, but only by assembling the fabric, by weaving or by threading.
The surface roughness of clothing must not exceed 1mm at most and items must not contain any self-supporting elements or rigid parts.
2. Team presentations
While it may not seem like an important part of the race to those watching at home, the UCI have also made some changes to the team presentations before races.
The rules say that a presentation may be organised the day before the race or the first stage.
Attendance by all riders and sports directors is mandatory unless explicitly agreed otherwise with the organisers.
But more importantly to the riders, team presentations cannot last more than an hour and should not interfere with training periods or rider dinnertimes.
3. Second and third division
In an attempt to “improve the narrative” of the racing season, the UCI is also making changes to the three division system, currently made up of WorldTour, Pro Continental and Continental.
Instead from 2019, the second and third divisions will be renamed – pro continental will become the UCI ProSeries division, while continental will become the UCI Continental Circuits division.
Feeding restrictions for riders during races have been in existence for some time, but the UCI continues to fine tune the procedures heading into 2019.
From next year, all feeding is forbidden during the starting 30km of a race, rather than the first 50, and in the last 20km as was already in place this year.
Feeding will also be banned in the final kilometre before a points or king of the mountains sprint or before the feed zone.
Taking on food will also be banned on descents of mountains listed on the mountains classification.
5. Team time trials
As previously reported (with mixed response), World Championships team time trials will be changing.
The UCI have had to publish some extra guidelines ahead of the first mixed relay events.
In a new format team time trial, the number of riders per gender must be at least two and no more than six, while the maximum team size must be no more than 12.
At the World Championships, teams will consist of six riders composed of three men and three women of the same nationality.
6. World rankings
The UCI will also be running a new ranking system from next year.
Individual World Rankings will be split into one-day races, and stage races to rank performances in each of these disciplines.
Team rankings will be drawn up by adding together the points of the 10 best places riders in the individual world ranking.
The World Ranking will include rankings for all individual riders across the three divisions, rankings for each nation and new team rankings which take into account the results of the 10 best riders of each team in all divisions.
The current WorldTour ranking system takes into account the performances of all riders taking part in WorldTour events, including Professional Continental teams.
7. WorldTour points for Classics
The Classics could also become even more sought after from next season as the UCI bumps up the number of points on offer for a win.
In each of the five Monuments, the winning rider will be offered 600 points for their individual ranking, up from 500 points this year.
Strade Bianche is also being given a boost, with the winning taking home 400 points rather than the 300 this year.
8. Organiser committing serious infringement
A rule added to the books for the UCI this year include infringements committed by organisers of road events.
An organiser committing a serious infringement can result in fines, withdrawal of the race from the calendar or demotion of the event to a lower class.
Things considered an infringement by the UCI include ethical breaches, failure to meet administrative deadlines or demanding participation fees from teams.
9. Women’s WorldTour
Women’s racing will include a number of WorldTour teams who are eligible to compete in WorldTour races in a system similar to the men’s elite division.
A Women’s WorldTour licence will give teams the right to race in high-level WorldTour events.
But this will be rolled out slowly, with five teams being issued with the WorldTour licences in 2020.
For the 2019, 2020, and 2021 season, the organiser of a UCI Women’s WorldTour event must invite 15 teams, then from 2022 the organiser must invite all WorldTour teams.
10. Team sizes
Cycling’s governing body has revealed that the minimum number of riders on a WorldTour team will be increased from 23 to between 27 and 30.
Plans to reduce the number of WT teams from 18 to 15 have also been scrapped, after protests from teams.
11. Grand Tour wild cards
The number of wildcard places at the Grand Tours will be reduced, while the two best UCI ProSeries teams will automatically be given the chance to ride in the three-week races.
The three best ProSeries teams will also have the right to take part in the UCI Classics Series and other WorldTour events.
According to the UCI, this is to take into account sporting achievements when choosing teams for WorldTour races.
12. Maternity pay to be introduced for women’s WorldTour riders
Riders in the women’s peloton will be entitled to maternity pay for the first time.
The UCI is introducing new rules for Women’s WorldTour teams to ensure pros are paid when they cannot ride due to pregnancy.
Maternity pay is the latest move by the UCI to make women’s racing more professional, and follows news that minimum wages will be introduced.
The new rules, added to the UCI regulations last week and which will take effect from January 1, say: “A rider temporarily prevented from exercising their activity as a cyclist due to pregnancy shall be entitled to 100 per cent of their salary for a period of three months and 50 per cent of their salary for another period of five months, and the amount paid to be paid may not be less than the minimum salary stipulated.
“This entitlement shall cease at the end of the pregnancy or contract.”
The new rule means women will be entitled to the same pay for pregnancy as they will injury or illness.
From 2020, women racing for WorldTour teams will be entitled to a minimum salary for the first time.
In the first year, the minimum salary will be €15,000 (£13,000), rising to €20,000 in 2021 and finally €27,500 (£23,000) by 2022.