Video commissaries will be used in races for the first time in 2018 as the UCI announced reforms in response to the case of Peter Sagan’s disqualification from the Tour de France last summer.
Bora-Hansgrohe, Sagan’s team, were due to take the UCI to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after Sagan was disqualified from the Tour for what commissaires saw as a dangerous manoeuvre causing Mark Cavendish to crash. However the two parties settled their dispute in December, with the UCI agreeing to let commissaires use video footage in future.
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A meeting of the UCI Management Committee at the Cyclocross World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands has now rubber-stamped these reforms, with a new “support/TV commissaire” being introduced at the Grand Tours (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España), Monuments (Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Il Lombardia), and the World Championships.
According to the UCI, the new commissaires will “follow the race live via the different TV images available, thus supporting the members of the Commissaires’ Panel who are out on the course”.
Under the new protocol, the time gap between groups must be three seconds on the road in order for a split between the two groups to appear in the results and classifications. This move is intended to reduce the level of danger in bunch sprints, reducing the need for general classification contenders to battle it out with sprinters and their lead-out trains for space at the front of the bunch.
The new rule will be applied on a case-by-case basis depending on the profile of the stage, level of the teams, and the number of riders, meaning that it is unlikely to be used on uphill finishes.
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Speaking about the decisions, UCI president David Lappartient said that he was pleased to see reforms that would improve the safety of riders and the consistency of decision-making.
“Rider safety and consistency between events on our international calendar are two of the UCI’s main priorities,” Lappartient said after the conclusion of the meeting on Friday.
“These two measures will reinforce both of those aims. The extra commissaire will provide vital support to the other commissaires in carrying out their roles, and the protocol was successfully trialled last year.”
Lappartient has also been vocal about his intent to increase the checks for motorised bikes, which the UCI refers to as “technological fraud”. A full plan of action in this area will be announced on March 21.