The Hound's Bark
Healdsburg High School
UCI Increasing Regulations
By: Harrison Threlfall
The UCI, or Union Cycliste International is the global league that governs most international professional bike racing. This governing body makes all the rules for all the disciplines of professional cycling. Recently a few of the rules that the UCI has been creating have been controversial in the cycling community. Specifically a lot of the rules that have been created to keep road racers safe have been disliked and deemed unnecessary by many critics.
The first rule that is getting a lot of attention is the ban on what is called “The supertuck.” This is when a rider slides forward off of the seat and on to the top tube of the bike. This moves the center of gravity lower and more forward as well as making the person and bike more aerodynamic. This is often used by riders in descents or sometimes sprints as it substantially increases speed. This position is not very stable and can be dangerous for riders without skillful bike handling abilities so the UCI decided to ban it. While this is only somewhat dangerous for the professional riders competing in these events, it is also dangerous for everyday people who are not the most skilled cyclists to see this on television and try to mimic it.
The second rule just recently implemented by the UCI is the ban of the aerodynamic position in which the rider places their forearms on the flat part of the handlebars in order to hunch over and get more aerodynamic. This is not very safe because the rider is not actually holding on to the bars so the rider has less control over the steering of the bike and is not able to pull the brakes very quickly if something suddenly requires braking.
Some other new rules further increasing the safety of the riders have also been introduced, including a rule where you can only throw trash and old water bottles in designated litter zones. This keeps dangerous trash off the road and reduces the amount of waste that goes into the ecosystems where these races are taking place. Rules like these were less controversial.
These rules are only made to increase the safety of professional riders, yet many of the professional riders do not like these restrictions at all. On twitter, professional road cyclist Jonathan Vaughters commented “Wonder if UCI cycling actually asked the riders about the new safety regulations? Or if the decisions were made by a room of old dudes in suits who based their opinions on their belly size not being compatible with super tuck?” Many people agree that because most of the riders who go into these positions are confident and experienced enough to do so this is not that major of a risk. That being said, these positions are much less stable and if something unexpected were to happen while in this position even an experienced rider would be much more likely to crash than if they were just in a regular riding position. Points have also been made that these positions are a bad influence on less experienced amateur riders who might see this then try it themselves on an open road where lots of things can go wrong.
These UCI regulations often generate a lot of controversy because of lack of rider input on decision making. Rules like these are an attempt to make riders safer, but many people are worried that at this rate cycling will be all about safety, and there will be no more opportunities to take exciting risks in the name of winning. Of course, it is harder to win if you crash.