New Safety Measures And The Supertuck

Did you know the UCI is going to ban the “supertuck” position? It’s been all over the media in recent days, it’s hard to escape the news. Last week cycling’s governing body issued a detailed press release and among them was a line about descending while sat on the top tube, which we’ll get to in a minute, but the substantial issue has to be the breadth of safety measures coming. A lot is about to change and it needs to be done right.

A range of new safety measures are coming and to save trawling the press release here they are in bullet points:

  • minimum standards for finish line barriers, to be drawn up by experts, including weighting, spacing and positioning
  • obstacle protection used along the race course
  • common warning signs regardless of the event, or country
  • more communication with riders over new safety measures
  • a more detailed protocol dealing with in-race neutralisation, the “safety car” version of the Extreme Weather Protocol
  • each event organiser must appoint and train an Event Safety Manager
  • stricter code of conduct of different members of the race convoy from moto riders to helicopter pilots
  • vehicle drivers will have their experience logged and there’s a licence points system for drivers in the race convoy, presumably repeat offenders get barred
  • the UCI is creating a new role internally, appointing a heavyweight safety manager
  • a database to log all incidents and accidents for all World Tour races going back five years
  • a new review tool to review course design ahead of the race and review course safety
  • clamping down on dangerous conduct by riders (like dropping bottles or descending on the top tube)
  • increasing the penalty for littering during races
  • work on things like bottle cages, ie to try and reduce the chance of what happened to Geraint Thomas in the last Giro

That’s a lot to get started on and it’ll apply first to World Tour events, men’s and women’s races alike and some measures will come in gradually from April and others, like the new barrier design, will arrive next season. It’s practically a shopping list of all the concerns raised last year – but not a solution, time will tell – and comes on top recent safety measures like the new concussion protocol, the Tramadol ban, the Extreme Weather Protocol, the revised bunch sprint rule, extending the 1km rule to 3km, shrinking the peloton, fining races like the Eneco Tour for dangerous courses and extending World Tour regulations on social security and health insurance from the men’s peloton across to the women’s World Tour.

Safety cannot exist in a bike race, safety is protection from danger and injury and this is a tall order for a bike race. So in the absence of racing on closed circuits and dressing riders in full-face helmets and body armour, let’s admit that we’re really talking about is risk management: identifying hazards and then trying to mitigate the risks to an acceptable level. What is tolerable changes with time, and like many workplace or homes, the standards have improved. Arguments of “it’s always been this way” or “we did this in the past” don’t last long today, there’s no clamour to race without helmets. The hard part is balancing the anxiety of riders with what can realistically be achieved by race organisers, there’s an asymmetry between professional teams with their large budgets and some race organisers who rely on volunteers and struggle to break even. Regulations that ASO, RCS and Flanders Classic can afford to incorporate might prove too much for others, especially those outside the World Tour calendar.

Actually it’s banned already…
Now for the supertuck section, the practice of descending while sat on the top tube. The UCI isn’t going to ban this… because it’s already banned. In road racing you have three contact points: the bars, pedals and saddle. It’s UCI rule 1.3.008 and so you can’t sit on the top tube. But if it’s been banned, why do riders do it? Because descending “Mohorič-style” has been tolerated, just as littering has and both in both cases because they’ve been difficult to enforce, even in the biggest of races there are only a handful of commissaires. So nobody really knew thought much about the underlying rules and if you whether you’re an armchair fan, an amateur or a pro didn’t know it’s understandable. Riding in a position with “imaginary” tri-bars is likely to get the same treatment too from April onwards.

The UCI’s own press release doesn’t mention banning the position, instead it says it will “reinforce the regulation”, as in actually apply their own rules. It was a mention inside a paragraph about littering with the supertuck bit even within brackets, we’re talking a very oblique reference rather than the UCI’s central safety measure. The good news story here on top of the safety measures is that there’s a concerted push to stop littering with carrot and stick measures, like having regular waste zones so riders can dump unwanted items; and increased sanctions that will hopefully be reasonable so that riders can drop a bottle in front of a child but if they litter there’s a meaningful penalty compared to a pointless cash fine which the rider in question doesn’t really pay anyway as it’s netted off team prize money.

The “tuck ban” has been coming as it was on the agenda for safety measures last year too, the difference this week is that it’s now been signed off. Yet despite all this it’s been the headline topic and social media highlight of the last few days. Presumably because its a lively subject, it even provokes outrage while news like “improved barrier design coming” which nobody can fault – at least until we see the design – or “bigger penalties for littering” get most people nodding in agreement. But they ought to be welcomed and shared just as much… if not more.

A lot of good safety measures have been announced and the sport needs to tidy up its act when it comes to littering too. Now comes the harder part with details and the implementation but things are moving in the right direction and the worry is a peloton distracted by the descending position polemic isn’t thinking about the coming, real measures on signs, communication, drivers and barriers. So far this is for the World Tour only so the concern is “two risk cycling” with safety measures applying to the premium calendar but not to races just one rung below but once in place we’ll see how they can implemented for all.

122 thoughts on “New Safety Measures And The Supertuck”

  1. Interesting that the super tuck is already banned. I can see arguments for and against its use.

    I’m pretty much of the laissez-faire mind in that people were doing this since before Pantani. It is a risky practice and one that I have adopted when I’ve felt comfortable to do so.

    Kids (and adults) will still do this regardless of the UCI. So far I have seen zero accidents in adopting this position, partly because anyone who adopts it has full control of their breaks. There’s virtually zero difference in control compared to sitting on the saddle. The riskiest part is the process of switching from one position to the other as transition is hardest part.

    • I think kids typically copy what’s on TV, and if the pros don’t use it, they won’t use it. Or at least, they’re more likely to listen to the coach when he tells them not to use it.

      And the Mohoric position is signidicantly harder to control, your hips aren’t made of jello after all (and this is coming from someone who’s emvarrassed about his lack of core sttenght) and no, you can’t reach the brakes with your hands in the centre of the bars, that’s parr of the problem, one pot hole that you can’t see and you’re happy to make it out alive. I give this my 100% support, the problem will be policing it, especially for smaller races.

      • Kids have been doing this since way before any pro did it. I agree that it probably acts an example for kids to copy, but my point is that anyone with a bike, and a big down hill, and something between bravery and stupidity (yes, men mostly) will do this anyway.

        Will this exercising of the new rule mean you cannot get out of the saddle and ride? I presume not, but if three points of contact are required there lies a new problem…

        • The rule says that those 3 points are “the only points of support”, but doesn’t necessarily require you to use all of them.
          Having said that, the rule also says:

          “The rider shall normally assume a sitting position on the bicycle. This position requires
          that the only points of support are the following: the feet on the pedals, the hands on the
          handlebars and the seat on the saddle”

          The use of “normally” and “this position” implies to me that sometimes other positions may be adopted, and *those positions* may have other points of support. This would cover not just efforts out of the saddle, but also super-tuck, Pantaniesque descending, and imaginary tribars. So I don’t agree that the alternative positions were as clearly banned as the UCI now claims.

          • Nothing is ever clearly banned as long as a rule can be interpreted in different ways and until the interpretations that weren’t intended (or, indeed, that were not foreseen or that were found only by looking for a loophole) are shown to be illegal, i.e. until they are penalized in races.
            However, in my opinion the rule was quite clear: if your feet, your hands or your ass were supported or in contact with the bike, there was only one point of support that wasn’t banned: pedals for feet, handbars for hands and saddle for ass. Simple as that!
            “Normally” obviously isn’t indended to allow other sitting positions, it is clearly meant to allow dancing or riding out of the saddle. Or, for that matter, to take both of your hands off the bars when necessary.
            But perhaps my problem here is that I’m not a lawyer or a professional athlete or team boss 🙂

  2. It’s good to see a response for most of the safety issues brought up in the last few years. As a cycling fan, I think I’m contractually obligated to say that everything the UCI does is wrong in all circumstances, but I’m finding it hard to find the right straw-man arguments against this press release. Hat’s off.

    As for its effect, I can hope for the best. Much of the measures listed here require the participation and good-will of everyone, not just new rules from the big guys upstairs. Organizers can have a safety manager, that doesn’t mean the race won’t be dangerous, it’s just someone who’ll take the blame if there’s an accident. Same thing with the littering rules, it’s great to see it taken more seriously, but much of the offenders are hard to spot, even with TV cameras.

    I think the Tour de France stage going around the Ile-de-Ré last year has scandalized many, and for good reason. The countless bidons flying over the viaduct to land into the (“protected”) Atlantic littoral was revolting, except we couldn’t see who was to blame since the peloton was compact. And that was the Tour, with countless TV cameras and 2 helicopters flying over.

    To add to the litany of demands, I’d love for the UCI to work on different kinds of sanctions for repeated offences of that nature. All teams aren’t equal in that regard, and a 200€ fine is only a deterrent to some of them. Maybe next year.

    • We’re at the promising stage right now, it’s quite possible things go wrong in the design and implementation, even that nobody is happy with organisers already struggling with Covid etc facing increased burdens and riders still feeling vulnerable, a UCI-made mess. But all the more reason to explore these changes rather than put too much emphasis on the position change rule and hopefully things can all work out for the better. Things like the Tramadol ban, the Extreme Weather Protocol etc show things can be improved.

      The image of riders throwing bottles into the sea when they crossed the bridge to the Ile de Ré during the last Tour seems to have had a catalytic effect, apparently it’s been brought up at high levels and made things go from “we should do something about littering” to “this must stop right now”. Most bike races in Europe depend on support from local politicians and in several countries these politicians are increasingly from green/environmental parties: they’ll refuse to pay for a race that leaves a trail of litter behind.

      • I guess the update from yesterday addresses part of the concerns above – time penalties for littering, and not just for show either, here’s what the release says:

        “Rider or any other licence holder:
        CHF200 to CHF1000*fine, 15 points from UCI rankings
        For one-day races, in addition to the provisions above, elimination or disqualification.
        For stage races, in addition to the provisions above:
        1st infringement: a 30 second time penalty
        2nd infringement: a 2 minutes penalty
        3rd infringement: elimination or disqualification

        Those are harsh sentences, so I expect they’d be used with discernment, i.e. throwing a bottle towards a crowd of spectators won’t be considered “littering”.

  3. The list all seems very sensible, how possible it will be to implement, especially for smaller races, remains to be seen. It is one thing for the UCI to issue missives from Switzerland, making sure they happen on the ground is a different thing altogether.

    Despite the grumbling from some riders the suggestion that the ban on top tube descending is going to be enforced makes sense. Even if the risk reduction is small any reduction in the chance of crashes at 80km/h+ must be a good thing, there is little evidence it actually helps riders go faster in any case.

    The casual throwing away of various rubbish by riders is very irritating (and potentially dangerous). I can see that there might be occasions when swapping out bidons might become more difficult if the old ones cant simply be thrown into the nearest field but like many of these sort of things it is just habit and can be changed. Might be difficult to spot who has chucked a bottle over the heads of other riders from the middle of the peloton though.

    • The UCI’s a weak organisation ran out of small offices behind a retail park in rural Switzerland so missive part is interesting as the UCI really struggles to make rules if others in the sport aren’t behind them, eg it can’t write new safety rules on the World Tour unless the likes of ASO, RCS etc are on board and it’ll be interesting to see how the peloton reacts to the position and littering rules.

      • On the one hand you constantly emphasise that the UCI is a weak organisation run out of a retail park in Aigle.
        On the other, you praise a typical politician’s shopping list with the vaguest of plans for implementation as if it is a) already accomplished successfully, and b) worthy of the highest praise. Which is, of course, what the politicians want you to do when they know they have either no intention or little hope of getting their grand schemes off the ground.
        You have become a lapdog for Lappartient, willingly or otherwise. It’s sad to see.

        • To the poster formerly known as RonDe (yes, it’s that obvious it’s you): I’m sure your comment has nothing to do with your visceral hatred of the French, nor the fact that you flounced off this comments section (officially) in Jan 2019 in a grand sulk because Inner Ring didn’t include your hero Froome in his Highlights of 2018.

    • There’s no doubt the tuck makes you go faster! If I’m doing 60kph down my local -5% straight drag, then tuck, within 15 secs or so I’m at 63%… the easiest extra speed you’ll ever get.

      Unfortunately, the riders that this and the ‘imaginary tri bars’ rule will disadvantage is breakaway riders and crack descenders… like Hirschi in the Tour last year. But I suppose it has to be done.

        • How much is that in km/h?
          Sorry, I couldn’t resist, it’s one of my pet peeves that kilometres per hour isn’t universally expressed as km/h. Even my beloved The Economist dictates that kph be used!
          But let’s all agree on a compromise: from now on, all commentators shall write “63 kays”! It’s a little longer than “kph” but at least you don’t have to use the Shift key or switch to the symbols keyboard 🙂

          • Oh, I like your suggestion, though I would like the exclamation sign after the unit despite having to use the Shift key. That would be perfect: [kays!] – Excellent.
            “I was going at least 38 kays! when the car hit me.”
            (Because going by the velocity unit [m/s] doesn’t make sense to most people)

  4. I boke my collar bone in the tuck position in back 1976. I never did it again!
    Seeing Pros pedalling whilst sitting on the top tube looks silly and embarrassing. It is also unnecessary and encourages copying, so good riddance.

  5. Utterly ridiculous. Next one: ban all road racing, race on zwift instead. Ban everybody from going outside because otherwise they will die of the virus. Buy a VR mask and watch sports, travel without leaving your home. Welcome to the brave new world.

      • No, that’s a right forum. Because this is universal. You, cancel culture people. How far do you want to go. What else do you want to cancel. For “my own good”…What if I’m of a n opinion that freedom is worth more than safety. What is “just safety ” for you is prison rules for me.Sorry, mate…you have all the right not to super tuck or Panatni style descend, wear a helmet, ride slow, wear hockey pads if you feel so..but please, do not impose your will on me. Thank you;)

          • I’m an advocate of safety at work but I get your broader point Mr Vee.
            You’re still free to ride as as a private individual as you wish though?
            I wonder if the Groenewegen / Jakobsen incident, and the possible subsequent legal cases, has concentrated minds and perhaps accelerated action on the safety aspects covered here?
            Like it or not, if Jakobsen does pursue legal action, I’m betting his lawyers would drive a horse and carriage through any defence.
            In fact, I’m not sure there is a defence case, that’s how lacking the WT has been.

          • @Ecky – it’s the same as the Sagan case. A grovelling apology, big legal bill and a big settlement was the only thing that could convince the UCI to introduce due process into the procedure for disqualification from international races.

        • Mr.Vee, it’s exactly as you described. Cancel culture knows better what you need, how you should live and what rules to obey. They will stop you from travelling, put you in quarantine camps/hotels (see Canada, UK) without your consent and against your will, constitution and human rights. That is the world which is being brought to us all because of people who accept every bullshit coming from the corrupt mainstream media and politicians. You cant think for yourself, you must take the vaccine and wear a mask because otherwise you are a conspiracy theorist, wear a tinfoil hat and are a murderer of the elderly.

  6. A mighty ‘hurrah’ from me on all counts though I confess that I didn’t know that the tuck was already banned.
    But all the other points have been mentioned on these fair pages at some time or another.
    I’ll be interested to see the database for incidents and accidents in the WT.
    I suspect that it will not make pretty reading.
    I wonder also how races like Paris – Roubaix might be seen through this prism, especially in wet and muddy conditions?

    • Maybe with Paris-Roubaix we get to the “risk management rather than safety” I touched on above, that for this race there’s an obvious, well known and accepted higher risk? The same goes for some other things where everyone roughly knows what they’re getting, for example the Scheldeprijs finish is often a crash fest but it’s widely known as such, while a sprint finish for the Tour de Pologne in Katowice doesn’t have to be downhill so they change can the finish.

    • It shouldn’t really affect races like PR except for convoy drivers and barrier standards. Although they do use a lot of barriers at paris roubaix so if a new standard is created and most old style barriers don’t make the requirements it could get expensive.
      Otherwise no affect. PR is not a road race on unexpected slippery dangerous roads. It’s a race on a well designated course and teams make their equipment choices to ensure the bikes can be handled on the course ASAP.
      If the race was during a blizzard which i think has happened before the weather protocaols could come into affect.

  7. I wonder if the measures relating to the actions of cyclists are there for the optics. If the new measures were purely to do with course design and barriers it might look like the UCI had been slack and were potentially to blame for previous crashes or injuries that resulted from their lack of appropriate measures. Not allowing the breakaway to rest their forearms on the bars suggests that everyone was previously at fault.

  8. I can only speak from my own experience, and I am by no means a professional cyclist. For me, the super tuck felt very unsafe the few times I tried it, and i quickly went back to “as aero as possible with hands on brakes”. On the other hand, banning the imaginary aero bar position is ridiculous. Any decent rider can do that no trouble, and the pros only do it on the front.

    • I don’t ride so I don’t know, but isn’t the imaginary aero bar position less stable? Would you be more likely to fall off if you hit a pothole?
      Also, if someone or something runs/moves into the road in front of you your hands are not near the brakes: instead of only having to move your fingers, you have to move your entire arms to a different position. Same is true if you’re riding on the hoods, but you can have brakes on the hoods.

      • Top tube is less stable than imaginary aero bars, as the weight distribution is weird – in either scenario you’re going down if you hit a pothole. But if you fall off from the top tube you’re likely doing 80kph/50mph+ as it’s a descending position whereas that isn’t the case with the fake aero bars. Also, getting back on your saddle from the top tube position is pretty difficult (as you remount the steering is really twitchy as well since you’re not well balanced).

        • Like Andrew I tried it out of curiosity on a familiar, empty road. While I was confident I could do it repeatedly, all it takes is one pothole. I’ve “raced” TTs on a road bike (participate but nowhere near winning!) and even at that level we hit 55mph on longer descents. No way I’d chance it at that speed. Many riders did the fake aero bars on road bikes too, as that’s definitely beneficial, but the local association banned that as well.

        • Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I meant ‘I don’t ride so I don’t know, but isn’t the imaginary aero bar position less stable than holding onto the bars?’
          (I imagine the tuck is even less stable than the imaginary aero bar position.)

          • Yeah, imaginary aero bars is definitely less stable than holding the bars. It’s easy to control the bike on smooth tarmac with imaginary aero bars but, if you hit a hole, there’s not so much weight on the front wheel so it’s skittish. And you’re not gripping the hoods/bars with your hands so no chance to correct anything. You can ride fairly rough roads in that position but it’s a risk / reward assessment and with my capabilities the risk would definitely outweigh the reward. If I was on a group ride and saw a rider doing that I’d have a word too.

          • I find imaginary aero position to be very risky unless you’re on pan flat roads ie no where in the U.K. this winter season.
            The top tube tuck isn’t as bad as you have control of the handlebars. One bump in aero, you slump forward and you’re all over the place. You’ll look a plum crashing without provocation. Sometimes I’m riding with only one arm holding the forks and I hit a hidden bump and am almost thrown off and the aero position is worse because you use your forearms to control. Probably the most dangerous in my opinion.

    • The point about the imaginary bars is not that a skilled cyclist can’t do it but that their ability to react to a situation. My take on it is that nobody ever crashed becasue he / she had there hands on the handbars.
      I always wonder about PRO cyclists all being so amazingly skilled. I have never seen so many crashes as you can in an average PRO race. I,m sure they are skilled but it does not seem to help them.

      • It’s all about pushing it to the edge. Pros don’t usually have accidents out training, but when they are looking to distance someone (or make up ground) on a descent, or fighting for a wheel or a line in a sprint you will get times where the line between superb skill and accident gets crossed.
        The other case of accidents is group riding, where a wheel gets touched. This can be for an infinite amount of reasons, but bunched riding at speed is fraught with dangers that simply cannot be mitigated – for instance strong side winds gusting through a gap in a hedge might send a rider skittering across the road in an unexpected manner causing a touch of wheels.

        • RQS, Chris Froome suffered horrendous injuries on a training accident when his hand/s were off the handlebars. The official line is that he was blowing his nose at the time and a gust of wind caught him.
          But it’s the same principle as the aero and super tuck positions, a lack of control of the bike.
          On that basis, their respective bans are understandable.

          • I’m not raising a voice against the ban, but Chris Froome’s accident (and its horrendous result) is not a case in point. Froome was riding his time-trial bike and TT bikes (and the position you ride them in) are quite different animals.
            I will maintain that riding “aero style” on a road bike is significantly safer than riding on a TT bike when you hit an unseen pot hole or an unexpected gust of winds takes hold of your front wheel.
            Not that I would want either to happen when both my hands or forearms are off the bar and I’m blowing my nose, but I’d still rather it happened on a road bike 🙂

  9. What’s the proportion of professional cyclists who have, in what would be termed in manufacturing employment, a “lost-time accident”. At least three riders of a thirty man team or 10% per season – and probably more (28 of 176 starters failed to finish 2020’s TdF, many because of accident or cycling-induced injury). For many years I was employed as a manager in French heavy industry. The business employed 500 people and one lost-time accident per year would be cause for concern. The environment is very different but pro-cycling’s accident rate is surely unacceptable, and these measures a welcome first step in the right direction.

    • So what!? People engage in cycling for various reasons- one of them might be that it is still a noble, hard, unforgiving and dangerous- thus fun thing to do .The pros go to the great lengths in their sacrifice to become pros…with all the above accounted for. How much safe is “Safe ” for you. You are like the traffic mob-? “not one live shall be wasted”…well, at the end, everybody, all of us will perish. So why not having fun while we can?

      • @Mr. Vee – At the risk of putting my hand in a nest of whasps, I find your rethoric a bit on the harsh side. Your reply above to @banjo as well.
        In the particular reply, I get the impression you are missing the point; It is not that the riders aren’t allowed to have fun – they most certainly are taking a lot of calculated risks – but more that the team, sponsors and business structure behind allow for these losses in “working days”. A number of days that really can be reduced implementing just a few common sense regulations. (This is not to say the UCI is in fact “common sense”. Often they are not)

      • Of course it’s hard, and that’s part of the attraction: cobbles, rain, snow, cold, distances most Sunday riders could hardly imagine… If one can reduce the risk of serious accident without loss of the sport’s image of toughness, suffering and nobility, then surely that risk reduction should be sought. P-R in the rain can be spectacular, LBL in the snow too…but that’s no excuse for being cavalier about rider’s safety.

    • Your question also needs the ‘lost days’ because of something that is now banned. How many crashes caused by rider’s position? The new stats being kept will answer this, but I suggest most of your lost days will be because of crashes within the peleton, not a rider in the tuck position.
      Only with reliable and relevant statistics will you know if the changes to the rules make it safer.

  10. A good explainer of these new rules thanks. I’d like to see some actual science looking into if the supertuck actually makes a difference, some wind tunnel testing maybe? Quite often see someone doing it, and someone not, right next to them and they’re both doing the same speed. If it’s proved it doesn’t make much difference then might be easier to convince riders not to do it. Will miss it if it’s removed from Zwift though!

    • Chris Boardman did a segment during TdF coverage one year for ITV (UK broadcaster) on super tuck vs traditional tuck vs Pantani behind-the-saddle, with wind tunnel measurements.

      I’m pretty sure “traditional” tuck came out on top, or it was so negligible that Boardman said it was the best option. The Pantani behind-the-saddle was by far the worst performing.

      For younger readers (or newer fans of the sport) Boardman was a TT specialist and had the TdF fastest TT average speed until Rohan Dennis went faster in 2016 or something.

      Given the additional risks / at best marginal gains I have no idea why an amateur rider would bother with a super tuck and I suspect that even for most pros it’s largely pointless.

      • Like lots of positions there’s the outline and there’s all the details to perfect just sitting on the top tube probably isn’t enough, you have to get the elbows and knees right too and it will vary with riders, their body type, the frame in question and more.

        There’s a risk-reward problem too as moving in and out of this position takes a second or two and on a descent at 80km/h that’s a lot of ground, with the hands in the middle of the bars you can’t brake and so to get out of the position you need to lift yourself back on to the saddle, then move the hands to the brake hoods… then you can brake and corner.

        • A friend of mine told me he once passed a teenage rider in a sportive sat on the top tube… doing 40kph. Pointless. I do think it’s a good enough reason to ban the position for pros. Kids are very impressionable and often have confidence that is not matched by their skills…

          Agree entirely that for some pros it might be advantageous but, like you, I suspect that will vary from rider to rider. Of course that’s all based on my eyes / experiences rather than hard evidence!

      • I think I saw this. Probably that the gain from the super tuck wasn’t sufficient to outweigh the issues of the safety and cornering. But before Chris Froome brought it to the fore I was doing this on select descents. I wouldn’t do it down the Alpe as it doesn’t work for cornering, but it’s great down the Peyresourde, or any other descent which has minimal cornering.
        However it’s not one for relaxing the legs. Because you are crouched on the top tube it doesn’t really allow your legs to breathe. You don’t get the same respite as if you were in the saddle.
        I’d not bother in wet or mixed conditions either as you can’t see the road as well as you can in the saddle. The only danger really is riders not exercising appropriate bike handling skills and observation. But that’s the reason for most accidents (not where pros are concerned though).

        • Yeah, I’ve always wondered about the lack of recovery time as it’s quite taxing (for me) to hold the position whereas a normal tuck is a chance to recover. Pros have better core and leg strength obviously so maybe they don’t feel it so much.

  11. It’s good to see the UCI putting forward a raft of safety measures where they have long been needed. Let’s hope they’re actually implemented, as many measures have been talked about in the past and then little has actually changed: for instance, there seems to have been little change, at least from a spectator’s point of view, in the number of motos flying about the race and how they do that.
    Chapeau to Inner Ring for a typically measured and balanced review of all of the safety measures, rather than hyperbolically focusing on the (far less important) top-tube rule (who really cares if they’re not allowed to descend on the top tube – if they’re all banned, it’s equal).
    My only slight concern remains the Extreme Weather Protocol: I’d hate to see races stopped for anything other than lying snow, ice, etc. Windy and rainy races are a big part of the sport (barring winds that are so strong the riders can’t stay upright): some of the best races I’ve seen have been in inclement conditions.

  12. Tour de Suisse organisers have been ahead of safety for a long time, with moto marshals on turns as well as junctions and street furniture. It still has roads that are a real challenge to ride, so the new rules don’t bring any dumbing down which has to be good.
    Seems that most nasty collisions are with street furniture that can be out of sight until a rider is right on top of it. Remedy is to put a visual marker that is above rider’s head height. A simple inflatable plastic tube, or card ‘digit’ zip-tied around the bollard/whatever would make it tall enough to stand above the riders in front. Can be put up in seconds, and could become a collectable item for fans, so no litter issues.

    • Preferably not inflatable…I think that signs by the side of the road should be enough. If it’s good enough for other road users etc. I mean whether the sign is inflated or not, the peril comes from it dropping at an inconvenient moment a la Simon Yates.

        • Specifically I’m thinking of a larger version of those ‘handclap’ tubes handed out at races which fans bash together like two pool noodles.
          Inflates in a second, weighs nothing, stands tall upright and can easily be secured to a bollard or divider sign that a rider might hit. It would pose no great risk if it were to come loose.
          If an organiser is serious about marking such hazards, there are some places where the signage team will need hundreds of markers each day. The markers have to pack away tiny and be super quick to put up.
          Source: Organise 2 off-road sportives and do all the marking by bike. Theres only so much you can carry for 100k of course.

          General principle is to leave no obstacle under 1m80 unmarked

    • Yup, I’ve so often thought ‘just stick something tall and fluorescent on top of the bollard/obstacle’. And then, ideally, add padding.
      Can’t be that hard.

      • TDU goes a step further and makes sure the hi-vis marker is actually a trained marshal blowing a whistle (to get the riders to look up) and making deliberate flag movements to show the direction of travel is to the left/right/both.

        But then again, TDU is also the only race in the world where F1 standards of organisation (many of the staff in the early years had worked on the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide, until a couple of years ago the only circuit to ever win the race organisation award 3 times) have had an influence.

        • Well, the marshalling of obstacles as you describe from TDU is basically mandated in the regulations, art. 2.2015 par. 6.
          “The organiser shall, by way of signs, give sufficient prior notice of any obstacle that he can reasonably be expected to know or anticipate and that presents an abnormal security risk for riders and attendants.”
          So – if anything – TDU is simply just better at complying if they manage to cover all obstacles, not doing anything out of this world for added safety. Flags and whistles have been de rigeur for several decades. For years (+25) I have been required to check if obstacles where covered during a race and note if they were not. I haven’t had the pleasure of TDU, though.

          • Yeah. Some strange comments about TdS and TDU which are applicable to lots of tours I think. Probably just more aware of them if they watch that cycling event (live or otherwise) more than others.

          • @RQS – absolutely the case. The TDU staff with F1 experience thought the rules in cycling were actually rules and not the loose guidelines that others around the cycling world treat them as being.

            They won’t have any problem with the new requirements for barriers either. Even when they ran this years’s events as a national level race they used the angled ones without exposed feet, with plastic panels on the front to create a smooth surface (plus take some of the collision energy away) and with weights on the frames underneath.

            “Going further” is a reference to the TDS aficionado above claiming a reputation as a safety leader despite only using bollards, and every edition including at least one very dangerous descent and a minimum of one sketchy sprint finish.

    • Tour de Suisse has been, notoriously, the World Tour race which designs at least one ridiculous and dangerous sprint finish every year, no matter what finish towns are used. The idea that they are somehow ‘ahead on safety’ and have been for a long time has to overcome that very big hurdle.

  13. I don’t think any rider could deny that both newly-banned positions are inherently less safe. If a dog or child runs into the road, if one sees a pothole late, then in the forbidden positions control and effective reaction are bound to be more difficult. If that was only the for offending rider then, maybe, fair enough, but it’s not; other innocent riders can suffer too. Those who campaign for safety and then complain at these new rules are hard to understand.

    Don’t forget there were similar complaints when helmets were made compulsory though those complaints seem ridiculous now.

  14. Generally moving in the right direction with the proviso that bike racing on open roads by its very nature can never be ‘safe’. Bit like daily life.

    The one thing that I totally approve of is the ‘littering policy’. I regularly cringe seeing riders openly discarding paper, bottles and unwanted food with free abandon. This practice is bad PR for the sport and totally unacceptable. I am surprised it has taken so long to be dealt with.

  15. Riders can still shoot up cortisone out of competition, like Wiggins did right before winning his steroid infused TDF. What rider will follow Wiggins in a classic, short stage race or one of the big tours this year? If you need a TUE you are too unhealthy to ride.

    • Yes, a TUE needs to be accompanied by a Medical Disqualification.

      No riding for two weeks, no racing for three. Go home and recover properly.

      • Yup, if you’re too sick to ride, you can’t ride.
        Take the medication and take a break.
        It’s way too open to abuse.
        Always has been; always will be.

  16. Well, you are of that opinion, but not everyone else.

    You are perfectly entitled to risk your life for whatever silly reasons. However, a lot of these risk taking endanger others as well. By insisting on you can take these risks, you are enforcing your will on others to risk their lives with you.

    Yes, if you want to fling your life away, be my guest. But please, do not impose your will on me. Thank you

  17. I agree with Inring’s tweet about the banning of invisible tri-bars leading to more riders using bars that are very narrow up top and with the brake hoods dramatically angled inwards. A few years ago I switched from 44 cm bars to 40 cm bars that are also flattened across the tops, and I noticed an immediate gain. For me it was a win-win, since I’m much more comfortable with 40 cm and would probably be fine with 36 cm across the hoods. I also am pretty comfortable in the invisible tri-bar position with those bars (a key is hockey tape across the flattened tops), unless there’s any wind, in which case it gets scary. But with narrow, flared drop bars and angled brake hoods, you get the best of all worlds.

    Regarding the supertuck, I wonder if riders will try recreating it legally. Imagine going with a short saddles (esp. with a rather blunt nose), and do a semi-supertuck in which the pelvis is slid forward to just in front of the saddle, and the torso is oriented parallel to the top tube and floating just above it, but not actually touching the frame. Modern compact frames with sloping top tubes would lend themselves to this, and it seems that someone with good core strength could get close to a Sagan-style supertuck without resting on the top tube and while still in contract with the saddle (though instead of the crotch as the contact point, the back of the bum or the sacrum would be nudged up against the front of the saddle). There’s already a trend towards shorter saddles, and with a soft grippy nose such a saddle could probably help make this “floating supertuck” position work. Then it would be up to the rider to go max aero and put the hands on the bar tops close to the stem, or keep them in the hoods.

    • You may have alighted on the real reason for the supertuck ban; it’s actually a cunning plan (Blackadder style) for the bike industry to sell us dropper posts for the road 😉

      • Ha! Hadn’t thought of that. If someone developed a dropper post with minimal weight penalty, would it be legal in road races? Even with a slight weight penalty it would probably be worth it for someone who is a really good descender.

  18. I would be very happy about the rubbish rule being strictly enforced. Many years ago i helped out at a amateur multi club race and a few days after the race we drove the course and picked up over maybe 2 hundred water bottles in a pristine wilderness area. Plus a number of Musettes of course and i guess lots of gel packets we never saw. This for a race with about 120 competitors across all grades and despite the race organiser asking that they not be thrown to the side of the road but disposed of in the feed zones.
    What the PRO’s do a number of amateurs follow no matter how disgraceful it is. I can understand throwing them to a spectator but otherwise no. And you must be very selfish to ever throw food wrappers on the ground. You end up with a sticky mess in your pocket. Hardly the end of the world.

    • Exactly… gels and sandwich wrappers weigh nothing and fit into the 3 pockets on the back of jerseys… no clue why it has ever been ok to throw wrappers to the ground.

      • A couple of teams have had an extra pocket on the side for waste but they all work, as you say there’s no reason to dump things. Sometimes there’s an assumption that the road will be cleaned after the race has gone through but you can’t expect a team of pickers to walk the length of a 200km race every day, sometimes in the Tour the local town will clean their section and so on but not always and not everywhere, nobody is going to climb down a ravine to fetch a bottle or wrapper anyway.

    • Amateurs copy the pros in littering as well as super tucks. I drove over the Col du Glandon a couple years back while the Haute Route sportive* was going over it, saw quite a bit of littering. Then I rode it myself the following day, easily a hundred gel wrappers on the floor. There had been a feed zone and a bin at the top of the climb.

      *May not be the correct term but whatever.

    • The problem is humanity. You don’t need a bike race to litter. You can see it everywhere anyhow. Generally speaking I see people using the bins at sportives etc. I appreciate that there are occasions where a wrapper or cellophane gets blown out of hand. But it is incredibly selfish and irresponsible to deposit your waste just anywhere. The main solution is to make manufacturers more responsible and make biodegradable packaging, or bike races ensure only biodegradable products are used.

      • Good point well made. Last weekend I was riding and was astonished at the amount of litter that’d been thrown out of car windows. Still if you’ve travelled internationally to ride in a stunning area like the Alps you would think you might make the effort to take litter home even if you drop it at home. I guess you and I don’t have the same mentality as people who do that.

  19. Was on the team that organised GB national youth road championships on a hilly circuit the very week when Froome supertucked to win off the Peyresourde. We were dreading the inevitable. Commissaire’s first words at the briefing; ‘I will disqualify anyone not riding the downhill seated on the saddle’. Phew.

  20. Start of today’s race, watching the recording on Eurosport, and the first thing I see (while the Gary Glitter song plays…) is dozens of riders dumping their face masks onto the floor.
    So, not only has the new littering rule gone well (or is it not in force yet?), but they’re dumping potentially contagious litter on the floor.

    • I would hazard the guess that this is exactly what they were instructed to do. I would assume that the masks (and assorted other litter in the area) were cleaned up immediately afterwards – before they were all over the place.

  21. One of the most dangerous parts of races is the finish of sprint races.

    Holy horror. Chaos like nowhere else. Where alpha male out alpha male’s the other alpha males to the detriment of anyone within slobber distance and any of many minute mistakes with gravity and pave as instant reminders.

    Rather, they should hold hands and make that single file for safety.

    The tube suck pales in danger.

    Many of the bullets are reasonable, good.

    The sport is struggling. -Teams, -Regulators, -Organizers, -Fans, -Racers, &on, On a thread. The rubber band is…

    And this is only one of the issues, tugging in the tug of war that is cycling.

  22. Even if there are many issues that people consider pressing does not mean you don’t pick the low hanging fruit or issues you can address now.
    I do actually know someone who was racing in a female lower level pro race in europe a few years ago who was penalised for riding in the “imaginary aero bars” position. That was in a TT though (she did not have a a TT bike with her). The rule has always been there but i guess they were more onto it in TT. This would have been about the time that certain riders gripped the levers rather than the extensions on there TT bike so the rules were highlighted. So i guess that’s why the commissar was on to it.

  23. The thing that bothers me in all this is the bit about obstacle protection. You cant protect all the obstacles on a 150km course, never mind a 290km one. Its not possible. The riders need to be careful how much they moan about this, and gravel, and pot holes. If they aren’t careful road races will be reduced to laps round a 15-25km circuit where the obstacles can be easily managed and crowds easily controlled (and charged for their attendance no doubt). In my opinion if you race your bike on the open road you have to be willing to accept what the open road throws at you.

    • I agree in that I enjoy tight, difficult finishes, for example, which are often moaned about. It’s about getting the correct balance. Bike handling is part of the sport, and I like seeing gravel, downhills, narrow streets, cobbles, etc. But you can properly mark bollards, traffic islands, etc. – I wouldn’t say that having to dodge around those, or clatter into them, is an integral part of the sport.

      • You’re right and I have no issue with bollards and signs etc being marked or cushioned to avoid stuff like what happened to GVA last year. My issue is more that you see and hear a lot of riders complaining about the road surface, and I’d be worried about the safety inspectors driving the course and picking out every exposed bridge parapet and tree.

  24. Watching the Tour de La Provence, there are still riders throwing bidons and other rubbish to the side of the road. I know the “new” regulations are not due for a few weeks yet but there is already a regulation against littering. Until riders start getting time penalties for this it wont stop.

  25. Matteo Jorgenson taken out by spectator in Tour de la Provence sprint today. The UCI needs to focus on REAL dangers that crash riders. Not imaginary crashes from rider positions.

    • So I guess the supertuck ban has replaced the sock height rule in online cycling discussion? Like, every time something goes wrong, it will be brought up as a fallacious counterpoint to what went wrong?

      • Exactly, the focus on social media seems to be the supertuck but as suggested above, it’s just a small tweak to things, the real change coming here is the new barrier designs… but as the rules say they’re for World Tour races first, will other paces like the Tour de la Provence which is is .1 race (ie two tiers down: World Tour > Pro > *.1) have the same rules, can they get the same barriers etc?

  26. Former SKY doping doc Freeman was charged this week by the UK Anti-Doping with two violations and faces a four-year ban. It comes years too late when it was obvious he was doping Sky riders.
    Which reminds me, anybody seen the “science” that cleared Froome from his uber drug doping published in a respectable peer reviewed journal yet? Yeah, me neither.

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