The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is delighted that the UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour season was able to resume on 1st August, and congratulates all involved for their thoroughness in implementing the health regulations that have enabled cycling to be one of the rare sports to have restarted its activities during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Nevertheless, the UCI is extremely concerned about safety, with the multiplication of serious crashes since racing resumed. Even though risks are part of our sport, the UCI cannot tolerate the fact that the accidents over the last weeks have often been the result of non-respect of the safety regulations that apply to all players of professional road cycling.
Too many serious crashes have occurred recently, and the UCI is aware of the dissatisfaction from the riders, with the CPA regularly speaking on their behalf.
As safety remains the responsibility of the organisers, the UCI immediately took measures laid down in the regulations after the events that occurred, notably, at the Tour de Pologne, Il Lombardia, Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de Wallonie. Our Federation continues its investigations and cannot rule out the possibility of implementing disciplinary procedures.
We note that certain fundamental safety measures are not respected even though new measures with the aim of improving rider safety at races were introduced at the UCI Management Committee meeting in January 2020 at the request of riders and in agreement with all parties – riders (CPA), organisers (AIOCC) and teams (AIGCP). Therefore, until the end of the season, the UCI will further reinforce its inspections before and during events, together with its Technical Advisers, with the aim of guaranteeing as far as possible the utmost safety of athletes.
As a reminder, over the last years and in consultation with cycling’s families, the UCI has taken, and followed through on, substantive measures to strengthen safety conditions for riders at events:
- Introduction of the Extreme Weather Protocol (2016). This has been activated on several occasions and was extended in 2020 to all questions concerning the safety and the organisation of an event;
- Appointment of Technical Advisers to events in the UCI WorldTour (2017) and UCI Women’s WorldTour (2019);
- Publication of Guidelines for vehicle circulation in the race convoy (2017) and update of Specifications for UCI WorldTour organisers (2017). These specifications were strengthened in 2020 and extended to the UCI Women’s WorldTour and UCI ProSeries. At least two organisers requesting UCI ProSeries status but who did not fulfil the regulatory requirements for race safety did not obtain this status for 2020;
- Safe driving awareness courses for drivers of vehicles and motorbike riders at races in the UCI WorldTour (2017) and for national teams at the UCI Road World Championships (2018). Drivers who infringed the UCI regulations have been fined or suspended;
- Introduction of regulations covering infringements committed by organisers, including a series of sanctions and procedures (2019). These sanctions were applied to all categories of events, including the UCI WorldTour;
- Riders endangering other riders faced disciplinary procedures that can include fines or suspensions.
Nevertheless, and in light of recent accidents, the UCI has decided to initiate a far-reaching reform of the safety conditions in conjunction with the riders, teams and organisers. This work, which is already underway with permanent contact with cycling’s families, will aim to make an objective and shared assessment of the current situation, marked by the repetition of crashes endangering all riders, and introduce improvements which – in some cases – will be able to make use of new technologies. A reinforced system of sanctions may be considered in the case of non-respect of the regulations. The UCI would like to thank the riders, team managers, organisers and all those who spontaneously offered to collaborate to guarantee maximum safety in our sport.UCI President David Lappartient declared: “The safety of riders is a priority for the Union Cycliste Internationale which considers this issue of the greatest importance. We are aware of the riders’ concerns over safety conditions as they go about their work and we are determined to take further steps to provide a strong and appropriate response. We extend our wishes for a quick recovery to all riders affected by the accidents, and we assure them, as well as the entire peloton, that the UCI, over and above the measures already undertaken at the beginning of the year, is working on new initiatives together with cycling’s players, to guarantee greater safety for all.”