Track Cycling

UCI is set to ‘simplify’ equipment rules. Here’s what we think they should change. – CyclingTips

CyclingTips understands the UCI is currently reviewing its technical regulations and rules for road and track racing. Several industry insiders have confirmed to CyclingTips that the UCI is presently in consultation with numerous stakeholders with a revision to the current rules expected ahead of the next Olympic cycle.

The UCI won’t yet confirm the discussions, and the body’s innovations manager Michael Rogers told CyclingTips, “At this point in time, the UCI is not in the position to comment.” However, several stakeholders involved in the review have told CyclingTips to expect “a decent amount of change” and indicated that “quite a lot is under review.” Furthermore, some industry insiders involved in the review process told us, the goal is to “simplify and even relax, some of the rules.” Seemingly the UCI has no plans to introduce any new restrictions but rather make regulations that “help both manufacturers and commissaires.”

CyclingTips understands the UCI has set a timeline for the review, with a presentation to stakeholders expected once they have found a consensus on the new rules. As for a timeline, several of the stakeholders we spoke with expect the new rules to be in effect from January 1 2023, with an official announcement expected before the end of June.

Through the years, CyclingTips has laid a fair amount of criticism on the UCI for its sometimes loosely worded and even more loosely applied rules. We often question the UCI’s priorities when hub end caps get banned and riders disqualified for throwing bidons to children, but rider safety can slip down the priority list.

Rather than throw more criticism the UCI’s way, we decided to get positively constructive and publish some regulations we would like to see reworded, relaxed, introduced or just scrapped. Our suggestions are intended to either make racing more exciting and engaging or improve rider safety. Some could double up making racing safer and more exciting.

We’ve placed additions to the existing regulations in bold, and crossed out the bits we don’t like.

The UCI regulations x CyclingTips

Power to the breakaway

UCI regulation article 2.2.025: The supertuck

Proposed Amendment

Riders must observe the standard position as defined by article 1.3.008. Sitting on the bicycle’s top tube is prohibited. Furthermore, using the forearms as a point of support on the handlebar is prohibited except in time trials and for solo riders ahead of any chasing group by more than five seconds.

Why we want it:

Given the puppy paws ban was introduced to improve safety, it is unlikely we will ever see this amended. That said, there are many fans who believe the UCI missed an excitement improving trick by not allowing breakaway riders to utilise the more aerodynamic position.

UCI regulation article 1.3.023: TT extensions

Proposed Amendment

The height difference between the elbow support point (midpoint of the elbow rest) and the highest or lowest point of the extension (including accessory) must be less than 10cm. Time trial extensions may be no longer than the rider’s forearms. The front tip of the rider’s helmet may not dip below a horizontal line from the highest point on the extensions. Elbow support pads may be positioned to support any section of the forearm.

Why we want it:

Following a series of high profile time trial bike crashes and ever more extreme TT positions, some high profile riders have questioned if we really need time trial bikes. CyclingTips readers and fans of the podcast will know I don’t believe banning a bike will make time trialling any safer. Our intention with this amendment is to allow riders to adopt the high hands position known to be more aerodynamic for many riders but also usually allows for much more visibility in the time trial position. Stipulating the front tip of the helmet may not drop below the extensions will hopefully mean all riders can’t ride head down and as such maintain greater visibility on the road ahead.

Head and hands up, please.

UCI regulation article 1.3.019: 6.8kg rule

Proposed Amendment

b) Weight
The weight of the bicycle cannot be less than 6.8 kilograms 10% of the total rider and clothing weight randomly checked prior to the finish of each stage.

Why we want it:

The UCI 6.8kg minimum bicycle weight rule was introduced in 2000 when safety was the main concern. Twenty-two years later bikes can easily dip below the limit without any safety concerns. World Tour mechanics regularly have to add weight for team bikes to reach the limit before the introduction of disc brake aero frames. For this reason, the weight limit needs updating and in the interests of fairness for all rider shapes and sizes, we propose the new limit is a percentage of rider weight. While our 10% figure may need some refinement, the blanket 6.8kg limit currently favours bigger riders.

UCI regulation article 1.3.006: Onboard cameras and other devices

Proposed Amendment

Devices which capture and transmit the following types of data are authorised mandatory within World Tour races, all data to be shared live for TV broadcast at the organisers discretion:

  • Positioning: information related to the location of the rider or the bicycle;
  • Image: still or moving images and footage captured from the bicycle (such
    devices may only be fitted on the bicycle unless specific regulations of a given
    discipline authorise devices being worn by riders);
    Front and rear cameras for the capture of moving images
  • Mechanical: information captured from the bicycle or any of its components,
    including but not limited to power, speed, cadence, accelerometer, gyroscope,
    gearing, tyre pressure.

Why we want it:

Yes, there may be complications around TV rights and data ownership, but mandating all bikes must at least carry the broadcasting equipment is the first step in making race coverage more exciting for fans. With the equipment mounted to every bike, no rider will be at a disadvantage and we’ll have footage from the critical times in every race. We might even go a step further and mandate all riders publish their power data after every race.

UCI regulation article 1.3.006: Pro bikes need to be available for purchase

Proposed Amendment

Equipment shall be of a type that is sold for use by anyone practicing cycling as a sport.
Any equipment in development phase and not yet available for sale (prototype) must be subject of an authorisation request to the UCI Equipment Unit before its use. Authorisation will be granted only for equipment which is in the final stage of development and for which commercialisation will take place no later than 12 months after the first use in competition. If commercialisation does not happen within 12 months, any rider shown to have used the prototype equipment will be subject to a retrospective 30-second penalty for each race the equipment was in use. The manufacturer may request a single prolongation of the prototype status if justified by the relevant reasons.

Why we want it:

This rule often seems overlooked, the introduction of a definitive penalty for parts not meeting the 12-month requirement should help ensure consistent application of the rule. Some further refinement is required to avoid the ridiculous price tags and obscure web pages some nations use to circumvent the rule and ensure prototype equipment is available at reasonable prices and through standard outlets

UCI regulation article 2.2.024: Race radios

Tell me more.

Proposed Amendment

  1. The use of radio links or other remote means of communication by or with the riders, as well as the possession of any equipment that can be used in this manner, during an event is prohibited except in the following cases:
    A. Men Elite: UCI WorldTour, UCI ProSeries and class 1 events;
    B. Women Elite: UCI Women’s WorldTour, UCI ProSeries and class 1
    events;
    C. time trial events.
    In the cases above, a secure communications and information system (the «earpiece») is authorised and may be used for safety reasons and to assist riders under the following conditions:
  • the power of the transceiver may not exceed 5 watts;
  • the range of the system shall be limited to the space occupied by the race;
  • its use is limited to Exchanges between riders and the sports director and between riders of a same team are provided live for TV broadcast at the organisers discretion.

Why we want it:

Much like our proposal for the inclusion of cameras on every bike, this proposal is all about improving the fan experience. Broadcasting select team radio communications could provide an extra insight for fans watching at home.

New regulations

Proposal 1

Any ban on equipment or technology introduced by the UCI, other than those on the grounds of safety, will come into effect on January 1 of the following year.

Why we want it:

The UCI can currently ban new equipment as and when it sees fit. Months and years of development by teams, riders, and manufacturers could be rendered worthless with the stroke of a pen over at UCI HQ. As such, manufacturers are understandably apprehensive of pushing development too far. The UCI is of the belief that manufacturers should clear everything before progressing with designs. That still hampers development. Clearly, the UCI must retain the option to ban equipment when necessary, but we believe a more predictable implementation of such bans would serve the sport better. This new rule could encourage teams and manufacturers to explore developments within the current rules, without the fear of an immediate ban from the UCI on any new developments.

Proposal 2

A sliding scale for World Tour team sizes based on team rankings.

Why we want it:

The top teams often have a stranglehold on the biggest stage races. Their big budgets can afford teams full of superstars with strength in depth that smaller WT and wild card ProTeams struggle to match. Again, our proposal requires some refining, but as a starting point, we propose the top five ranked teams at a set point during the season are awarded seven riders in each World Tour event. The teams ranked sixth to 15th are allocated eight spaces on the start list, with nine places going to the lowest-ranked teams in the race.

Proposal 3

Every future road World Championships to be hosted by Flanders.

Why we want it:

No explanation required.

Congratulations on making it this far. No doubt some of you were tearing your hear out reading our suggestions, let us know in the comments below which of our changes you agree with and your proposals.