UCI adds new rules about gravel roads in races

The governing body responds after high-profile events have included unpaved roads in their routes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI has responded to the trend of including unpaved roads in races by adding new rules about gravel segments.

A number of high-profile events have been adding unpaved stretches into their courses in recent years, including the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, prompting a response from cycling’s governing body.

The new regulation, added to the UCI regulations on road races on Tuesday (February 11), says that unpaved roads must be safe and ride-able.

It says: “If an organiser wishes to include unpaved roads in an event, the UCI must be informed at the time of registering the event on the calendar.

“Furthermore, the organiser shall make every effort to ensure the safety of the riders, spectators and race followers and that the event runs smoothly in sporting terms and with regards to equitable treatment of participants.”

The rule states that the race organiser must provide detailed descriptions of the gravel sectors to teams, including length, type of surface, difficulty and road width.

Organisers must also ensure the course can be ridden in all weather conditions, that the course is stable and safe, and that and drivers of race vehicles have the skills to tackle the section as well.

The UCI also said it may refuse to register an event on the calendar or refuse the inclusion of an unpaved section.

In 2019, the Tour de France added in a 1km-long gravel section at the summit of La Planche des Belles Filles, which was upgraded from loose grave to packed dirt for the race, while the Vuelta a España included an uphill gravel section on stage 10, where both Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) crashed.

The Grand Tours followed a trend set by a number of European races like Strade Bianche, Tro-Bro Léon and more recently Paris-Tours.

UCI president David Lappartient has also shown his interest in gravel racing, saying he wants to introduce a gravel World Championships in the future.

Lappartient said he believes the discipline has a “real future and a huge potential”

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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.