The Dos and Don’ts of Racing

Can you push a team mate during a road race? Take a spare wheel from another rider? Take part in a local gran fondo? Draft a rival squad during a team time trial? Readers regularly email or tweet questions about the regulations and so here’s a quick review and update the list of dos and don’ts.

Racing might be “200 idiots trying to cross a line first” in the words of Marzio Bruseghin but there are a rules behind the dash and that’s before we touch on the unwritten or societal rules of the peloton. In fact there are a lot of rules and it’s impossible to remember them all, they take enough enough space on a hard drive let alone your own memory so here is a handy, updated reference.

The the UCI rules are on the UCI’s website and Chapters 1, 2 and 12 apply. Chapters 1 and 2 set out the rules and Chapter 12 lets you look up the applicable penalty.

Chapter 1
1.1.002: remember to renew your racing licence every year
1.1.042: if you ride for a pro team you need their permission to enter a race solo
1.2.019: you can’t take part in a race that’s not on the calendar of the UCI or a member federation
1.2.022: if you’re suspended, you’re not allowed to enter zones at races closed to the public
1.2.030: no betting on the sport
1.2.047: if you start a race it is assumed you have read the roadbook and race manual
1.2.063: don’t blame the UCI for potholes and other defects on the course
1.2.064: study the route before the race and stick to it, a hop on a cycle path could get you in trouble
1.2.079: don’t be violent or take actions to harm the image of the sport.
1.2.080: be sporting
1.2.082: you may be held responsible for the accidents you cause
1.2.083: don’t carry glass containers
1.2.108: complete the course under your own steam
1.2.109: you can cross the finish line on foot as long as you have your bike with you
1.2.112: if you win a prize or an award you must attend the podium ceremony and press conference
1.2.113: wear your team kit on the podium
1.3.001: have a safe bike that meets the UCI rules
1.3.026: wear shorts and shorts sleeves, no sleeveless tops allowed
1.3.030: your rain jacket has to be transparent or matching the team kit
1.3.031: wear a helmet
1.3.033: you can’t wear non-essential items for performance gains like compression socks
1.3.034: wear only your approved team kit in a race
1.3.054: if you have a leader’s jersey you may wear custom matching shorts
1.3.055: if you have a leader’s jersey and the race doesn’t provide a skinsuit for a TT you may wear your own team issue skinsuit
1.3.077: don’t alter or cut your race number before pinning it
1.3.080: remove your race number if you drop out of a race

Chapter 2
2.2.008: get approval or check before riding a gran fondo even if it’s on the UCI calendar
2.2.010: you can be excluded from a race but have the right to a hearing
2.2.024: race radios are only for World Tour, .HC and .1 road races and time trials
2.2.025: don’t litter, use the waste zones if provided
2.2.026: wear two race numbers for a road race, one is fine for a time trial
2.2.027: have your number on your bike too
2.2.030: if you’ve quit the race don’t cross the finish line. Use the broom wagon unless you’re ill or injured
2.3.009: show up in time for the race and be sure sign on or you risk disqualification
2.3.012: you can share a bottle, food or even tools with someone from another team during a race but never give them a wheel or your bike
2.3.012: you can’t push a rider, whether they are a team mate or a rival. No hand-slings either
2.3.014: if you’re lapped on a finishing circuit don’t interfere with the race, for example you can’t wait for the bunch to come around and then lead out your sprinter
2.3.026: you collect food bags or get a wheel change on the side of the road where the locals drive, eg on the right in Belgium or Italy, on the left in Britain or Australia
2.3.027: normally you can’t take food on climbs and descents and neither in the first 50km nor the last 20km
2.3.029: you’re only allowed mechanical help from your team, the neutral service or the broom wagon
2.3.030: in the event of a mechanical, don’t hang on to the team car but stop by the side of the road
2.3.034: you must stop at level crossing if the gates are closing or closed or even if the lights are flashing and/or the bell is ringing
2.3.036: sprint straight and don’t endanger others
2.3.039: the time cut is normally 8% but may vary, you must check the race roadbook
2.3.040: if you finish in a group you’ll all be credited with the same time
2.4.018: if you catch a rider in a time trial you must pass by at least two metres. If caught, ride to the side by at least two metres and drop back, within 1km of being caught you must be at least 25 metres behind
2.5.015: a team caught during a team time trial must pull over and drop back
2.5.018: riders can’t push each other during a team time trial
2.6.006: if you crash out of a prologue and do not finish it you can still start the stage the next day, you will be given the same time as the slowest rider in the prologue
2.6.018: if you’re leading a jersey competition in a stage race you should wear the jersey. If you have won several jerseys then the priority is: overall leader > points > mountains > other (eg young rider, combined etc).
2.6.026: if you drop out of a stage race normally you can’t resume racing elsewhere until that stage race is over
2.6.027: the three kilometre rule usually applies with three kilometres to go but is often waived for uphill finishes so check

That’s it, follow these summary guidelines and you’re good to go. The penalties for infringing these rules vary from a gentle slap on the wrist to disqualification and if you want to know what the price is then the Chapter 12 of the UCI regulation lists the tariffs (PDF).

So far, so black and white but because a bike race is a huge convoy in the countryside the officials can’t be everywhere so “don’t get caught” can apply, even if video evidence can and will be used after a race if necessary. Another is “safety in numbers” where a lone rider hopping onto a cycle path risks trouble but if 50 riders do it then it may be tolerated, the same when a large group misses the time cut in a stage race.

Tomorrow a look at the unwritten rules.

47 thoughts on “The Dos and Don’ts of Racing”

  1. ‘2.6.006: if you crash out of a prologue and do not finish it you can still start the stage the next day, you will be given the same time as the slowest rider in the prologue’

    Has this actually happened before?

    • I don’t know, probably somewhere at some point but it’s not a regularly used rule. Prologues used to be almost recurrent for grand tour starts but their origins are extra to the race, a way to add a show event on the eve of the start of the Tour de France so that the public could see the riders and the race could get more income from an extra day’s show. This fringe status seems to live on in the rules in that you don’t have to complete the course to ride on.

      • Obviously a very small race but did happen at UCI 2.2 Tour De Kumano just last week with the last placed rider given the same time as the slowest rider.

    • There was this time Pedro Delgado didn’t crash, but arrived too late at the podium. It’s long ago, I can’t remember what happened, but he might he been placed last indeed.

      • 1989 Tour, was 2’40 late for his start time. Finished the stage only 2’54 behind the leader which was a great ride all things considered. But because he finished, and inside any time cut, 2.6.006 would not effect him at all.

      • That was the 1989 Tour de France and he arrived late as you say but the clock started at the moment he was due to leave the start ramp so his eventual time was that taken to complete the prologue course plus his late arrival.

  2. Thanks for doing that; that saves us all a lot of time. As far as the hand sling is concerned, I do seem to recall it bring used without punishment. Kwiatkowski and Cav on crosswind stage at 2013 tour?

  3. 2.3.012: you can share a bottle, food or even tools with someone from another team during a race but never give them a wheel or your bike

    Does this still hold if you can argue that giving them a bike gives you an advantage? E.g two riders from different teams crash in a scattered race, team A’s car is right there but the one from team B is way back. If they both get a bike or wheel from team A, the rider from that team will immediately have someone to help them get back to the group they came from. If not he will have to do it all by himself.

    • This is an example where we could allow him to race on (and informing the DS’) but have a discussion afterwards. Depending on the situation a fine could be negotiated.

  4. ‘your rain jacket has to be transparent or matching the team kit’ pretty sure this one may have been broken once or twice! The sight of the entire peleton wearing black bin bags hurtling down a mountain while commissaires look on does make a bit of a mockery of the rule book.

    • Very true, and given the fine is small most teams ignore it. It’s a good example of a rule that’s either enforced or dropped/rewritten because having it and not enforcing it very often doesn’t help much.

  5. Why aren’t sleeveless jerseys allowed?

    I mean, they look awful, which is reason enough in my book, but is there more to it than that?

    • Two words…. Mario Cipollini. The UCI has clearly singled him out on this rule. Can anyone else think of another rider with the audacity to go sleeveless?

      • One of the few pro cyclists with the upper body mass to not make a complete fool of himself was Super Mario. Seeing a climbers arms sticking out of a sleeveless jersey would result in him being pulled from the race for being malnourished.

    • This one came about after the Atlanta Olympics where quite a numbre of riders tore the sleeves of their jerseys due to the high temperatures. It did not look good and they decided it was not allowed to go sleeveless anymore.
      Long sleeves are okay in any case though they might violate some of the unwritten fashionista regulations.

  6. 2.6.018:
    Say you’re second in the leader’s and the points competition (and the first in the former is also first in the latter) and first in the mountains, do you wear the mountains or the points?

      • A first place in one classification always overrides a borrowed jersey from another classification, with the hierarchy only applying to which one of multiple jerseys a single rider must wear.

        On stage 3 of this year’s Giro, the points jersey was worn by the fourth-placed rider Caleb Ewan because the second and third riders were the leaders of the mountains (Teklehaimanot) and U25 (Pöstlberger) classifications.

        In the case of the points jersey, there is a case to be made that handing it to the leader’s final leadout man might be more appropriate than handing it to a vanquished rival.

    • Sometimes organisers/commissaires have a heart and relax this rule OR the gels are handed out and the rider eats both the gel and the fine (or team eats the fine in order for its rider to do well)

      As Inrng mentioned, many of the punishments are minor slaps on the wrist.

      • The public has a heart. Organisers and commissars are heartless. The opposition between these two contraries is what made cycling. Souvenir Henri Desgrange.

      • The parcour has to be considered too. Not many riders can have their gels og new bottles when requested during the Paris-Roubaix for instance, the parcours and racing simply holds back the team cars in many places. So we allow for feeding despite the regulations once the car finally arrives.
        Also during descents, feeding is not allowed due to the dangers of high speed. -Or if you have echelons stretching the peloton over several kms, the team cars can be blocked behind the last group for quite a distance. Under circumstances like these we can allow feeding.
        Sometimes very high temperatures suspends the 50/20 km rule before/ending feeding too.

  7. 2.3.030: in the event of a mechanical, don’t hang on to the team car but stop by the side of the road

    LOL when does this ever happen?! 99.9% of riders hang onto the team car while their bike is being “fixed”

    • Haha yeah this rule sounds more like a recommendation, that is, a recommendartionof what TO do – aka best idea is to hang onto team car. Haha

    • Yeah, that is one rule where everubody dances to the music of the WorldTour. They do it, and we have an effen hard time imposing it in lower cat races. But we try, the regulations say you can’t.
      Btw, commissaires can’t lean out of cars either, hence a sunroof is mandatory. But not many cars come with sunroof anymore and it is increasingly difficult for the organiser to provide them.

    • That’s a thing I’d like to hear from UHJ, if and how thsi rule is enforced.
      Watching races on TV, it seems like the length of the litter zones equals stage length, and the rule is just a environmental crowd pleaser, no one really cares about.

      • @Vitus, you got that right. Spot on “environmental crowd pleaser”.
        But we do enphasise during DS-meeting and we do try to impose it. It is one of those where there is some security in numbers as well as if we don’t wee it, it is “difficult to cure”.

        • I believe it’s very difficult to cure. Most bidon throws are out of peloton anonymity, you always see the them fly, but not from which riders they exactly came.

          • You are absolutely right, it is difficult. And it is increasing now that the trend is towards wearing a skinsuit through any kind of stage leaving no pocket room for gels or the emergency bidon.

  8. “1.3.055: if you have a leader’s jersey and the race doesn’t provide a skinsuit for a TT you may wear your own team issue skinsuit”

    Did Nairo Quintana wear a RCS provided skinsuit during the final Giro TT? And is it a standard size or made to measure? Bobby Traksel, the Dutch Eurosport commenter, mentioned that TT skinsuits are made to measure, so that wearing a leader’s jersey and not being able to use it, is a slight disadvantage.

    • At the Tour at least, the leading riders are measured up for skinsuits on the afternoon following the previous stage.

      I don’t know whether the Giro organisers do that or just offer a selection of standard sizes.

    • The neutral zone is part of the race, but I expect that it will get overlooked courtesy of the fact that he was passed by the last neutral service had passed him.

      Neutral service hanging him out to dry was also the reason that the decision was made not to penalise Tyler Farrar for using a spectator’s bike to finish a TDU stage.

      Perhaps the broom wagon needs to carry a last resort bike with flat pedals?

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