From March 1, the UCI will allow the use of drones to film cyclocross races, but only if race organisers obtain prior authorisation to capture these types of shots.
Last Saturday, at the Superprestige cyclocross race in the Belgian municipality of Gavere, a drone with a camera attached provided an immersive spectator experience as Lucinda Brand led the field. The drone, deployed by rights holder Flanders Classics, captured Brand tackling the mud confidently, which she later described as "amazing footage".
However, the UCI banned the drone mid-race, grounding the device from filming anymore of Brand's dominant performance. The UCI has now explained this decision, though, claiming a drone needs a permit to film, which the one in Gavere didn't have.
“Drones can be used for live capture, if prior admission is requested,” explained UCI CEO Peter Van Den Abeele in conversation with Sporza. “But apparently that written request hadn't happened in Gavere. The chairman of the jury then simply applied the regulations.”
Prior to Saturday's Superprestige race, Van Den Abeele claims the UCI had already discussed the use of equipment, such as drones, to film even more spectacular shots and allow television viewers to get even closer to the action.
“Last week we had a director's committee. There was a debate about filming during professional recordings. It was then decided to exploit its possibilities more. We are now going to do that, because from March 1 drones will be generally deployed.
“In Gavere it was an unfortunate combination of circumstances, because that application was not such a paperwork now. But we are of course asking to do this. If we can visualise cycling in a better way, we will absolutely not put a stop to it.”
The decision to allow drones to film during the course of the race will no doubt be welcomed by cycling fans, with a poll posted by Brand suggesting over 96 per cent of 4,757 respondents were a fan of the camera and would like to see it implemented more often.
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