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Opinion: 7 Cycling Race Rules That I Could Do Without

By Martin Atanasov

Every sporting event in the world needs to have some rules. Otherwise, what’s the point? Who wins if there are no rules to tell you? How do you prevent cheating? Actually, there can’t be cheating if there are no rules but that’s something we can discuss in philosophy class. Instead, we will talk about when the governing body of a certain sport goes a bit overboard. Let’s take a look at the seven weirdest UCI rules I could do without.

1. No bunny hopping on sidewalks

We all remember that memorable moment when Peter Sagan bunny hopped over a sidewalk so he could get a better line of attack on a roundabout. Unfortunately, that turned out to be outlawed by UCI. Why? Who knows. Maybe it’s because they fear all will start doing it, resulting in mayhem. However, in UCI racing events, there are not that many sidewalks, to begin with. And if it’s so crucial to not go over them, maybe barriers would help?

2. No cycling on a cycle lane

If the previous one sounded weird, this one will be a real doozy. Why would cycling on a cycle lane be forbidden? In the UK, for example, bike lanes are placed on the road itself. They are just a different colour. The same can be said for many cities in Europe. If the point is to prohibit usage of rural bike lanes that are typically separated by some ditch, trees, or bushes, then just close this particular part of the route for the cyclist. It’s not that hard. Furthermore, knowing how many fans are there lurking beside the road, no pro cyclist will willingly go on a road where fans will literally engulf them.

No cycling sign
Is this rule really necessary? © Profimedia

3. No hugging

Keeping in mind this rule was introduced due to COVID-19, it does sound reasonable. However, when you come to think of it, cyclists ride shoulder to shoulder for hundreds of kilometres in the peloton, sweating, breathing heavily, and often bumping each other. With this in mind, hugging the winner is not the most likely place where you can catch the disease. Furthermore, knowing how Covid affects your lungs and your physical capabilities, how can anyone with the virus win a pro-cycling event is beyond me. Still, let’s hope this rule will fade away in a couple of years, as will the deadly virus.

4. No light bikes

There is one general rule in cycling – lighter is faster. Thus, the whole industry is hell-bent on creating impossibly light bikes that the slightest breeze can blow away if it weren’t for the rider on top. Usually, the riders are just as heavy, so it doesn’t help much but I digress. The UCI, however, has opted to put an end to the development of new, even lighter bikes.

The officials are pretty meticulous about this particular rule and even put weights on bikes that are not heavy enough. Currently, the lower limit is 6.8 kg, which hasn’t changed since the previous century despite the huge leap in cycling technology.

5. No invisible time trial position

Most recently, the invisible time-trial position was prohibited due to safety reasons. Of course, the main reason for this rule is the safety of those who watch the events. It’s only natural for aspiring young cyclists to try and mimic the greats. However, considering what can be seen on television and that these races are astonishingly peaceful compared to other sports, prohibiting a body position perceived as dangerous won’t really have the needed effect. Instead, it only prevents riders from taking a breather after they’ve already ridden more than 150 km at a record pace. It seems quite unfair, in my opinion.

6. No more Supertuck

While we are on the topic of UCI against physics, the Supertuck has also received a ban since, once again, it was considered to be too dangerous. This one is a bit more understandable as most amateurs try the position at high speeds and believe me, it’s not something you’d want to do in an urban setting, especially when there are bumps along the road. Despite all of this, we are talking about professional riders who should be allowed to use every physical advantage to get to the finish first.

7. No help from other teams

We’ve all seen a heart-warming moment when an opponent helps his rival in a time of need. For us, that’s a great display of sportsmanship but for the UCI, that’s an overstep. Naturally, teams collaborate within the race when it benefits them both but when there is a mechanical issue, the only ones who can help are the neutral assistance cars and team cars. Everyone else should continue on their way. So next time you see a heart-melting scene where a rider is left behind only for a rival to help them out, know that’s a rule violation.

The UCI, in general, does an outstanding job. Its primary goal is to ensure every cyclist’s safety and protect spectators and fans from unintentionally harming themselves. However, in their attempts to make the entire race a safe space, sometimes they transform from a governmental body into helicopter parents, which disallows their children to be creative and innovative and to push the laws to the limit to gain an advantage. And isn’t pushing oneself to the limit exactly what cycling is all about?