The UCI has clarified the banned rider positions, new barrier rules, and changes to rubbish disposal as part of a number of the safety measures being introduced this season.
In a published safety guide, explanations and diagrams have been provided to inform race organisers, teams, and riders of the changes that come into effect from April 1.
‘Puppy paws’, resting your forearms on the handlebars for aerodynamic gains, has been banned, as has sitting on your top tube, the UCI clarifying that riders must only use feet on pedals, hands on the handlebars and the seat on the saddle as points of support while racing.
Interestingly, it would seem that wrapping your hands around the brake levers, as riders have done for some time but a position growing in popularity ahead of the rule change, is not banned by these new rules.
Next slide, please.
How riders dispose of rubbish will also be changed, with the peloton now banned from disposing of bidons at the side of the road (outside of specified litter zones) as well as on the road, after Geraint Thomas’ 2020 Giro d’Italia was ended after he slipped on a discarded bidon as well as increasing pressure for cycling to address the environmental cost of races. As well as the new litter zones, riders are encouraged to hand rubbish back to their team cars or face fines, UCI point deductions, or even disqualifications. In stage races, 30-second and two-minute time penalties can be given out, as well as disqualification as a final straw.
Rules on vehicles in the race specify a general safety distance of at least five metres from riders, and that overtaking should only take place one at a time, with their speed not exceeding more than 20km/h of the riders being passed.
Lightweight barriers that are not secured and can easily move are now prohibited, as well as any signage that encroaches past the line of the barriers. Space between each barrier is also not allowed.
When arch structures are used to signify intermediate sprints or KOM summits, barriers must not suddenly narrow the road, and if it does narrow, a marshall should be present with a yellow flag and whistle to warn the riders. Arches should also themselves not narrow the road.
“All these measures, which are solutions to concerns expressed by different stakeholders, will make road cycling safer for its main players, the riders,” UCI President David Lappartient said. “It is now essential for everyone to respect the new regulations, which the UCI will continue to work on improving, always in consultation with all those concerned.”
Despite his grievances with Lappartient over the bottle investigation at Il Lombardia, Remco Evenepoel has praised the new safety measures, despite having a preference for puppy paws staying legal.
“I am convinced that there are many good measures in between. But others are too extreme. At my stage victory in the Tour of Poland last year I rode fifty kilometers alone. Several times with the hands over the front, which is much more relaxing for the hands and shoulders and – above all – more aerodynamic,” Evenepoel told Wielerflits.
“Riders know what can and cannot be done. But caution is of course important. It is good that this is an item and that it is being worked on.”