UCI plans to introduce time penalties for riders littering during races

David Lappartient has said monetary fines are not doing enough to combat the issue

2019 Vuelta a España (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI is planning to introduce time penalties during stage races for riders caught littering.

David Lappartient, President of cycling's governing body, says he saw "unacceptable behaviour" during the recent Tour de France of riders incorrectly disposing of their rubbish in nature.

"It is clear there was unacceptable behaviour during the Tour de France," Lappartient told DirectVelo (opens in new tab). "When you throw away a can and there are people, no problem, but when you get rid of waste in nature…it's unacceptable."

The monetary fines currently handed out to riders caught littering are not doing enough, the Frenchman says, partly due to the size of teams' budgets these days.

"We can see that this has very relative effects on some," Lappartient continued, before saying he hopes to introduce "much more coercive measures" from February 2021. Namely, time penalties.

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"It will undoubtedly be time fines in a stage race," he said, "it's clear that it cannot stay this way. There are efforts that have been made by the organisers and riders but, unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere."

Lappartient then spoke of one particular instance at the Vuelta a España that made him concerned some localities may stop allowing races to pass through their regions due to environmental concerns.

"Last year, I followed a stage of the Vuelta with the Prime Minister of Andorra," Lappartient said. "Before the last climb, a rider emptied everything he had in his pockets. [The Prime Minister] asked me what he was doing...and asked 'is that allowed? It is unacceptable'. We could have problems obtaining permission to use the road if efforts are not made."

The Tour de France has come under particular pressure from environmental groups lately, as France saw a number of green party candidates elected in recent mayoral elections.

Lyon's new green mayor, elected after the decision was made for the city to host a stage of the 2020 race, told France24 (opens in new tab) it was "no longer acceptable" to host sporting events "whose first priority is not to consider their [environmental] footprint".

A similar situation has emergy in Brittany, where the Grand Départ of the 2021 Tour de France will now take place after Copenhagen prioritised the rescheduled football Euros.

The city of Brest, specifically, will host the rollout from the region after the bigger city of Rennes refused on ecological grounds, the new mayor, Valérie Faucheux, calling the Tour a "race which has had its time, but which is struggling to renew itself".

This incurred the wrath of Brittany-born Tour de France legend Bernard Hinault, who accused Faucheux of being "from the past" and saying she should instead worry about her own carbon footprint.

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.