A new standard will be set for barriers used in the final kilometre of races, the UCI has announced, which will be implemented at the start of the 2021 season amongst a wave of new measures set to improve rider safety.
Other measures include a special committee to look at the equipment used by teams that can impact rider safety, such as disc brakes and bottle cages, as well as implementing stricter rules regarding dangerous manoeuvres on the road and discarding bidons to the side of the road or among the peloton.
Details of how exactly barriers will be made safer or redesigned has not been specified.
Rider safety came to the fore on numerous occasions during the 2020 season, with Fabio Jakobsen put into an induced coma after crashing over the barriers in a high-speed incident when sprinting for the win against Dylan Groenewegen at the Tour of Poland, while the Giro d’Italia peloton protested the length of stage 18 and halved the 258km route.
Geraint Thomas’s Italian Grand Tour campaign was also brought to a premature end when he slipped on a discarded bidon and came down hard in the neutralised zone of stage three.
Therefore, the UCI says it will improve communication with riders when safety issues arise, and also produce a more detailed protocol for when races can be neutralised.
The working group who agreed on these measures, which can be read in full here, included various stakeholders, including UCI President David Lappartient, team managers Iwan Spekenbrink (Sunweb), Richard Plugge (Jumbo-Visma) and Patrick Lefevere (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), riders Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) and Matteo Trentin (CCC), as well as Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme.
“As professional rider directly impacted by these new measures, I am extremely pleased to have been involved and listened to throughout the consultation process led by the UCI,” Gilbert said. “This allowed me to directly express our concerns on important topics such as barrier design and ensuring race convoy vehicles are operated safely around riders. I am pleased with the outcome and glad to see that my input will provide greater safety for us, and for the next generation of riders that will follow.”
“The measures announced today enable us to take an important step forward in the reinforcement of safety at road races, which has been one of the major priorities of the UCI for several years,” Lappartient added.” All professional road cycling families have shared their concerns and proposed solutions, and it is on this basis that the announced measures were drawn up before being approved by the different competent bodies, including the Professional Cycling Council, which brings together representatives of teams, organisers and riders.
“Cycling now has a solid plan of action, which we will continue to improve in consultation with all concerned.”