The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today publishes the protocol detailing procedures to be followed, in particular concerning health and linked to the coronavirus pandemic, with a view to the re-opening of the road cycling season. As indicated on 5 May in the announcement of the revised 2020 calendars for the UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour, this document, based on the work of the World Health Organisation and an international task force set up by World Athletics, is the result of the collective work of a steering group led by UCI Medical Director Professor Xavier Bigard and including representatives of riders, teams, cycling’s doctors and organisers, UCI Medical Commission, as well as CPA Women and Katerina Nash in her role of President of the UCI Athletes’ Commission. The protocol, adopted collectively by the implicated parties, specifies according to the level of severity of the health situation, mandatory, recommended and desired measures for different players (teams, organisers, the UCI). These instructions and recommendations apply to all men’s and women’s road races registered on the UCI International Calendar. An adapted version of these actions will soon be established for other disciplines, notably mountain bike.
First of all, the UCI and its steering group partners wish to specify that the protocol:
- remains dependent on the local and national laws and measures in force in territories hosting the events
- must be comprehended as part of a process aiming to reduce as far as possible the risks linked to the pandemic
- applies mainly to teams (athletes and entourage), given that the management of the public – apart from in some defined spaces (start and finish zones) – comes under the relevant authorities
- will be updated according to the development of the world health situation and the evolution of the state of scientific know-how.
Three general principles were at the origin of the organisation protocol for competitions.
The first is that each team (riders, entourage, doctors) must form a “team bubble”. When the race starts, the team bubbles will join to form a “peloton bubble” which must adhere to the measures adopted.
The second caters to three levels of the pandemic, and varies according to their intensity:
- “moderate” risk level which corresponds to phase 4 of viral pandemics as defined by the WHO, with 20 to 50 Covid-19 cases declared per week per 100,000 inhabitants
- “low” risk level (WHO phase 3 or post-peak phase of the pandemic, corresponding to fewer than 20 cases per 100,000 inhabitants)
- “very low” risk level (WHO phase 1 and 2 or post-pandemic phase characterised by an absence of cases over a period of 3-4 weeks).
The third establishes measures considered mandatory, recommended or desired, according to the severity of the epidemiological situation. The mandatory measures in all cases include the appointment by the organiser of staff in charge of the protocol at the event (a COVID Coordinator and a COVID Doctor), the screening of riders by their teams (before and during the competitions), the adaptation by the organiser of risk zones (registration, feed zones, awards ceremony), and the respect of the preventive “bubble” principle by teams at their accommodation and when travelling.
The measures are then rolled out according to the moment of the competition (actions before, during and after the race).
Before the race, especially with the appointment of a COVID Coordinator who is part of the Organising Committee, and the application of accommodation rules in the hotels that are compatible with the respect of the team bubble.
Also during the days before the event, measures concerning, among others, a screening strategy for carriers of the virus who are themselves healthy will be implemented. With riders and staff members forming a team bubble, it is necessary to verify beforehand the absence of asymptomatic and healthy carriers of the virus. A testing programme aiming to detect all carriers of the virus must therefore be implemented by the teams.
During the race, the riders will follow a protocol of daily medical monitoring. Social distancing measures will be imposed between the peloton bubble and the team bubbles on the one hand, and the organising staff, media and public on the other hand. Despite all the prevention measures, the management of a suspected COVID-19 case during the race must be planned for. In such a case, the team doctor makes direct contact with the dedicated COVID Doctor of the organiser’s medical team; this COVID Doctor will direct the patient to the nearest COVID Centre or specialised service. Mandatory measures imposed in line with the national rules will be applied for both “suspected cases” and those who have been in close contact with that person. All these measures simply represent a strict application of the health regulations in force in the country, which in turn are based on the rules imposed by the WHO. The organisers must inform all the participating teams of the detailed protocol applied by the health authorities and specify the conditions of health isolation and identification of those in contact with the carrier.
After the race, the actions mainly concern an adaptation by the organisers of the awards ceremony. Finally, the protocol relating to the anti-doping personnel (as is the case with race officials) will be the responsibility of the UCI.
The UCI President David Lappartient declared: “This protocol of instructions and recommendations is fundamental, especially for the teams and organisers, with a view to the resumption of cycling races. I am very pleased with the spirit of collaboration between the different members of the steering group led by Professor Bigard and their desire to find effective solutions which have enabled this document to be produced in little more than a month. These measures remain dependent on the laws and measures in the different host countries and may need to be adapted but this protocol is another step towards our sport’s return to life. After the announcement of the calendars, we now have the framework which will enable riders to race again. We will now continue our work by adapting this protocol of actions for disciplines other than road, notably mountain bike, whose 2020 UCI World Cup will get under way in September.”
The full document is available here