By Silje Brown
Ahead of the new road racing season, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has announced an extensive and detailed range of new safety measures. This was prompted by a number of high-profile accidents at key events last year and have been met with widespread approval by teams and organisers, although not all are welcomed by professional riders.
Originally made famous by Chris Froome during stage 8 of the 2016 Tour de France, the ‘super tuck’ posture of crouching over the cycle top tube will be banned from 1st April this year. This is in addition to a wide variety of safety steps now being introduced. It was a somewhat unpopular decision with certain cyclists as the posture has often been used by cyclists to gain an aerodynamic advantage, particularly on descents.
Priced as a 25/1 contender in the latest Tour de France cycling betting odds, Froome will no longer be able to use one of his favourite postures. Regardless, the Briton aims for a return to his best racing form riding for the Israel Start-Up Nation team. Indeed, using the ‘super tuck’ could potentially lead to riders being sanctioned by the UCI, starting with warnings, and potentially leading to competition expulsions.
So, it’s safe to say that, while the vast majority of safety measures have been broadly welcomed by professional peloton competitors, not all are happy with the ‘super tuck’ elimination. Ahead of competing in the third stage of the Étoile de Bessèges recently, Ineos Grenadiers rider Michal Kwiatkowski was less than impressed.
“If they ban riding on the top tube now, then next year it will be putting your hands in the air to celebrate victory,” Kwiatkowski told Cycling News with a hint of irony. Conscious that professional cycling involves many risky manoeuvres during races, banning the ‘super tuck’ is “just a way of putting responsibility for crashes on the riders,” in his view.
“I don’t think they should stop us doing it,” insisted Kwiatkowski, concerned this measure could eventually lead to speed restrictions or drinking mid-race. He believes that the UCI should leave the control of cycles to the riders, while focusing more on their own organisational responsibilities at races.
Full details of all the new safety proposals were published by the UCI Management Committee on 4th February. This came after what they stated had been a long consultation process, involving all stake holders and which met with approval by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC). While recognising that changes would imply a “change of habits and practices” by cyclists, new measures will be introduced via education and guidance.
Following the awful crash involving Fabio Jakobsen and Dylan van Groenewegen last year, the UCI initiated a full review of safety standards regarding barriers around finishing zones. New measures will be implemented in 2021, while further standards will be introduced ahead of the 2022 season.
There will also be a stricter code of conduct surrounding race convoys, including motorcycle riders, vehicle drivers, and even TV helicopter pilots. This comes after Julian Alaphilippe collided with a support moto at the Tour of Flanders, along with a bizarre incident at the Giro d’Italia, when a helicopter blew barriers into the road which injured several cyclists. Throwing of bottles and waste will also be restricted to ‘green zones’ along routes.
I agree with Mark. Data seems to drive everything these days but it isn’t driving this decision. Now, sometimes it can be overkill but I think they need to address other issues first, before this. If the rider doesn’t feel safe to do it, they won’t do it. Fix barriers and line deviations first.
Seems like safety measures should be driven by actual accidents, unsafe incidents caused by that equipment, tactic, or riding behaviour. If the tuck hasn’t caused actual documented safety issues, seems like overkill. Those that can and are willing to descend as fast as possible should be allowed to use that skill to their advantage.
The human body is fragile and breaks very easily. Anything that reduces the probability of breakage has to be a good thing.