Riders already testing out boundaries of new UCI aero positioning rules

In the past week a number of riders have been spotted wrapping their hands around their brake levers in preparation for the ban of 'puppy paws'

(Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While the new rules on aero positioning don't come into effect until April 1, members of the pro peloton are already adapting how they ride, looking to continue going as fast as possible while staying within the regulations.

In a swathe of new diktats issued by the UCI aiming to improve rider safety, both the supertuck and forearms time trial position will be banned in the coming months, a decision that has proved divisive amongst the pro ranks.

Necessity is, as always, the mother of invention, and while wrapping your hands around your brake levers isn't a brand new position, it looks like it's the one that will likely replace 'puppy paws' as riders seek to gain an aero advantage.

During his stage four breakaway win at Étoile de Bessèges, world time trial champion Filippo Ganna could be seen with his hands over the front of his handlebars, but crucially wrapped outwards around his brake levers, eeking out aero gains while staying within the new regulations.

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A week later, at the Tour de La Provence, Movistar's Luis Mas could be spotted initially riding with puppy paws, not yet an illegal position, but then moving his hands out over the brake levers as a motorbike camera pulled up alongside him.

(GCN Racing)

(GCN Racing)

"Using the forearms as a point of support on the handlebar is prohibited except in time trials," reads the UCI's wording of the new rule, and this brake lever position appears to present a grey area, with the arms aligned with the brake hoods.

Commenting on the Tour de La Provence for Eurosport GCN, Matt Stephens said he thought Mas'  position would be allowed.

"I would say that's on the border. He's hooking his hands around the brakes," Stephens said. "We might see some more creative and innovative positions to make sure they're within the boundaries of the rules."

"They're going to try it, see what the UCI implementation of the rules is," added Dan Lloyd.