The UCI reinforces rider safety and its commitment to sustainable development

Feb 4, 2021, 17:48 PM

The Management Committee of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) met on 3 and 4 February. With travel restrictions still in place worldwide because of the health crisis (coronavirus pandemic), the meeting of the Federation’s executive body again took place by videoconference, and not during the recent UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Ostend (Belgium) as originally planned. The UCI Management Committee approved a plan to improve rider safety, approved a new strategy for sustainable development, awarded the UCI Bike City label to new cities and regions, and attributed the organisation of several events.

The UCI Management Committee approved the implementation of a series of measures for rider safety. Following a long consultation process, the key principles of these measures had been unanimously accepted last December by representatives of all cycling’s families – teams, riders and organisers -, and were approved by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) at its meeting on 2-3 February.

Ambitious changes were approved, as a result of which, riders and teams will sometimes have to modify their habits and practices, and the organisers take into account new directives for the organisation of events.

When it comes to organisers, safety measures featuring in the various guides published by the UCI for different stakeholders (organisers, vehicle drivers, regulators, TV Production, teams etc) will be revised – with a view to reinforcing them – when necessary3.

For example, new provisions for the organisation of rider refreshments at events have been agreed, in particular the obligation to set up rubbish collection zones every 30km to 40km so riders have the possibility to get rid of waste or bottles2.

Concerning security in sensitive sectors, such as the finish zone and its barricade lines, it was decided to establish several measures at events (for example weighting and also  positioning of barriers on the finish line to avoid any space between them) which will come into force without delay. Thereafter (during 2021), a set of standards for barriers used in the final of events, in particular for bunch sprints, will be established, led by experts (such standards will necessarily be drawn  up in consultation with stakeholders and take into account the characteristics of modern professional cycling). These standards concerning barriers will be implemented by event organisers from the beginning of the 2022 season. The UCI will adjust the timeline for the implementation of these new standards during the 2022 season according to the progress of their development.

The enhancement and modernisation of the specifications concerning obstacle protection elements used along the course3 as well as the harmonisation of signalisation used will also be reviewed3. Linked to the harmonisation of practices, communication with riders when important decisions are taken will be strengthened, and a more detailed protocol dealing with the neutralisation of events will be created3.

Finally, all event organisers will have to appoint and train an Event Safety Manager1; the UCI will develop the content of these Managers’ mission and will set up a certification system based on experience and training3.

Moreover, stricter directives covering the conduct of different members of the race convoy (motorcycle riders, vehicle drivers and also television helicopter pilots) have been decided1. A logbook system which will enable the monitoring of drivers’ experience and eventually lead to the application of a licence points system for drivers in the race convoy will be progressively introduced3. Within the coming weeks, a more comprehensive and structured briefing for all drivers before the start of each event will be introduced, led jointly by the President of the Commissaires’ Panel for the event and the organiser1.

These concrete measures are accompanied by the creation of the position of Safety Manager within the UCI Sports Department, dedicated to the safety and the supervision of safety at events on the UCI International Road Calendar1. This position will be occupied by Mr Richard Chassot (SUI), former professional cyclist and event organiser, notably of the UCI WorldTour event, the Tour de Romandie. Following his appointment by the UCI, as a consultant for a period of one year, and to avoid any conflict of interests, Mr Chassot stepped down from his position of Director General of the Association Internationale des Organisateurs de Courses Cyclistes (AIOCC). Moreover, he will not intervene as Safety Manager at any event for which he heads the organisation.

With the collaboration of an external service provider specialising in data collection and analysis, the UCI has undertaken the development of a database of incidents and accidents that have occurred at major UCI WorldTour events in the last five years, allowing for more effective targeting of actions to be taken by the UCI for in-race safety1.

Again with support from an external service provider, and with the help of new technologies, a tool enabling the organiser to benefit from an evaluation of risks in the proposed route several weeks before the start of the event is currently being developed1; this tool will enable the UCI and organisers to target their actions to ensure race route security and identify potential risks before the events.

The UCI Management Committee also decided to reinforce the regulation concerning potentially dangerous conduct of riders, including throwing a bottle onto the road2 or within the peloton (which may pose a danger for following riders), and taking up dangerous positions on the bike (especially sitting on the top tube)2. The regulation concerning the throwing of waste and bottles outside dedicated zones has also been reviewed.2

Failure to comply with these provisions will lead to warnings from the Commissaires, as part of an initial education and awareness phase, then systematic sanctions (which could go as far as exclusion from competition) from 1st April 20212. The UCI wishes to spend several months making riders aware of the changes. A campaign to inform of and promote the measures will be introduced not only for the riders but also for teams and Commissaires, to ensure everyone knows and understands the new provisions and their consequences.

Better supervision of the use of equipment by teams that could cause varying problems (for example disc brakes and bottle cages) will be discussed by the UCI Equipment Commission, which will be asked to work on these specific subjects with industry experts and the sport’s different stakeholders3.

 

1 Measures which will be implemented rapidly (at the latest 8 February 2021).

2 Measures which will be implemented on 1st April, after a period of adjustment for riders, teams, organisers and Commissaires.

3  Measures which will be implemented during 2021.

The majority of these measures will come into force from the beginning of this season, while some will come into force later. The relevant measures will apply initially to UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour events, then will be able to be applied progressively to all events on the UCI international Road Calendar.

Still on the subject of rider safety, but from a medical point of view, after the publication mid-December 2020 of a protocol for the management of concussion that was welcomed by the whole cycling family, the UCI has decided to develop a practical tool to facilitate its implementation. Symptom cards detailing the principal signs of suspected concussion to look for in all athletes after a fall, will be distributed to all concerned whether they be health professionals or not. They will be pocket-sized for easy practical use.

Despite the current complicated situation, the well-being of riders remains an important element for the UCI. In this respect, as part of its on-going strategy for the reinforcement and development of women’s professional cycling, the UCI Management Committee decided to make a financial contribution to the women’s branch of the CPA, the recognised association representing all professional road cyclists. This contribution comes on top of that which had been approved for UNIO, the recognised association representing professional UCI women’s teams. Moreover, the Management Committee decided to make an exceptional contribution of 400,000 euros to the transition fund for male professional cyclists managed by the CPA. This fund, created by the UCI in 2002 and whose management was transferred to the CPA in 2012, has had an accumulated deficit for several years, even before the transfer, due notably to the growth of the men’s professional peloton. The Management Committee confirmed that it will work closely with the CPA and provide support to the association to meet future structural challenges linked to the fund and to create a fund for women riders.

The management of the current health crisis was also given special attention. The UCI Management Committee noted that the crisis had been well managed by the Federation in 2020, especially thanks to the rapid establishment of strict and efficient health protocols, a coherent revision of the UCI International Calendar taking into account cancellations and postponements, and collaboration with all stakeholders. These three elements combined enabled numerous major competitions to be held, such as several UCI World Championships (road and mountain bike among others) and prestigious road races (such as the three Grand Tours and the majority of the Classics). The Management Committee also acknowledged the success of the recent UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Ostend: raced without the public due to strict implementation of reinforced health protocols, they required all stakeholders to make sacrifices, but even so the event was a great success. To give an example, the VRT (Flemish public-service broadcaster) registered one of its biggest audiences in the history of the event: the Women Elite race beat the previous record with more than 812,000 television spectators for a 64.2% audience share, while not far off 1.4 million television spectators followed the Men Elite race (78.9% audience share).

As it appears that the 2021 season will also be complicated, the Management Committee, together with the UCI Medical Director Professor Xavier Bigard, discussed at length the development of the situation and of the health protocols with a view to ensuring as far as possible a solid 2021 season. Of particular note were the appearance of vaccinations against the Covid-19 with proven high-level protection – and therefore very encouraging with a view to emerging from the crisis -, the evolution of biological tests to detect the coronavirus and the appearance of new variants, more transmissible and more contagious than initial strains. To be sure we can anticipate developments, it is necessary to adjust the Covid-19 protocols published by the UCI in 2020 for all cycling disciplines. More information on this subject will be communicated as necessary to different stakeholders, who will continue to be regularly consulted throughout the season. Moreover, the UCI will continue to publish and update the document on its website keeping track of events on the UCI International Calendar that are postponed or cancelled.

In this difficult context, the Management Committee reiterated the UCI’s commitment alongside the International Olympic Committee to ensure the successful staging of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (23 July to 8 August 2021). Moreover, the UCI has confirmed the dates of the remaining test events (BMX Freestyle on 24-25 April and track cycling on 25 April).

As was the case for the 2020 season, the Professional Cycling Council and the UCI Management Committee approved a series of special provisions aiming to offer greater flexibility in 2021 to players of road cycling hard hit by the health crisis. In this respect, for example, following the request from the three National Federations concerned (France, Spain and Italy), the maximum number of riders at the start of the Grand Tours was exceptionally increased to 184 from the usual 176. This increase of eight riders will enable organisers, if they wish, to invite an extra team to their event under the wildcard system. However, the number of riders per team at the start of the Grand Tours will remain set at eight. This adjustment, applicable in 2021 only, will offer several teams and numerous riders extra opportunities for competition at the highest level in a period which has seen them significantly reduced.

On the subject of solidarity programmes, which are fundamental for the equitable development of cycling, the UCI Management Committee learned of the report of activities carried out in 2020 by the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC). Despite the difficulties encountered throughout the year, the UCI WCC continued to support the UCI’s member National Federations in their efforts to develop cycling in their respective regions. In total, 36 projects (concerning education, the provision of equipment or financing of projects) were carried out in 2020. Measures in the fight against the coronavirus, especially confinement, meant the UCI WCC had to rethink how it could implement the UCI’s solidarity programme. It was decided to cancel projects relating to athletes’ training camps and the organisation of competitions. As for projects linked to education, an on-line platform was developed to deliver all level 1 courses. The first part of 2021 will consist of finalising the projects that were postponed in 2020. The UCI will moreover provide support to the Continental Confederations who need it for the practical aspects of organising their 2021 Congresses, which are all particularly important in this electoral year and which will be to a large extent held virtually.

In 2020, restrictions imposed on populations to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic prompted many people to take to their bikes, be it for their leisure or for transport. This trend led to an impressive rise in the use of bikes throughout the world. As the world governing body for the development and promotion of cycling, the UCI is stepping up the efforts it has made over numerous years to build on this momentum. As part of ongoing work with the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, signed by the UCI in 2020, the Management Committee has approved the fundamental principles of the UCI’s sustainability strategy aiming to make cycling one of the most sustainable sports in the world. This strategy will be based on four pillars:

 -UCI Commitment to Sustainability: The Management Committee has approved a Sustainability Policy for the future integration of environmental, social and economic governance into UCI operations and decision-making processes.

-UCI Climate Action: The Federation will promote greater environmental responsibility throughout the sport by expanding knowledge of sustainable practices globally and taking action to reduce its impacts.

-The Cycling of Tomorrow: The sustainability of cycling will require not only innovation and support for a low carbon future but also measures to increase diversity and inclusion in the sport.

- Advocacy – Cycling for All and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: Activities linked to Cycling for All will enable the UCI to reinforce the positive social impact of cycling and develop new partnerships in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The UCI will unveil the details of its sustainability strategy in June following further development and engagement with stakeholders. It will also produce, with the help of external support, sustainability guidelines for the global cycling community, science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a 10-year strategic implementation plan and new initiatives to support the UCI’s sustainability objectives.

Taking a global perspective, the members of the UCI Management Committee welcomed the fact that, as outlined in the document “Making Agenda 2022 happen – mid-term review, end of 2020”, published by the Federation in December 2020, numerous projects have been achieved since the election of David Lappartient as President of the UCI. Others will be achieved in the medium term. Out of all the objectives announced in 2018, nearly three-quarters have been totally on almost totally achieved, while the UCI continues to work on those which remain relevant today. The modernisation of cycling continues, as witnessed by new initiatives such as the first UCI Cycling Esports World Championships organised on 9 December 2020, and the appearance of new cycling formats under the aegis of the UCI (for example E-mountain bike and BMX Freestyle).

Due to uncertainties that continue to shadow the upcoming year, the UCI will nevertheless remain cautious and vigilant when it comes to managing its different activities and its administrative service.

The Management Committee wished to congratulate the newly-elected cyclo-cross members of the UCI Athletes’ Commission: Steve Chainel (FRA) and Katerina Nash (CZE). Both were elected by their peers during the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Ostend and will represent the cyclo-cross discipline and its athletes on the Commission from the 2021 UCI Congress to that of 2025, both of which will take place during the UCI Road World Championships. The Commission is composed of 20 members, each discipline or speciality – cyclo-cross, para-cycling, BMX Racing, mountain bike cross-country, mountain bike downhill, trials, BMX Freestyle, road, track and indoor cycling – being represented by two athletes, one man and one woman. The remaining representatives will be elected during the 2021 UCI World Championships for their respective disciplines. The Commission has an advisory role which enables it to submit proposals to the UCI Management Committee on various subjects in the interests of the athletes. Its President, who will be voted in at the first meeting of the Commission next November following the different elections, will automatically become a member of the UCI Management Committee for the same period.

 Concerning anti-doping, the Management Committee welcomed the setting up of the Cycling Unit within the International Testing Agency (ITA), in charge of the fight against doping in cycling. This has been fully operational since the 1st January this year. The Cycling Unit guarantees that the expertise gained by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) will be conserved. This strategic reorganisation in cycling’s anti-doping fight enables our sport to reinforce its leading position in the protection of clean athletes.

 Regarding the promotion of cycling for all, the UCI Management Committee decided to award the UCI Bike City label to four new cities and regions in recognition of their strategy for the development and promotion of every day bike use and their commitment to the organisation of events on the UCI International Calendar. The recipients are the Flanders region (Belgium), Val di Sole (Italy), Fayetteville (United States) and Wollongong (Australia). They will officially receive their label at the next UCI Mobility and Bike City Forum this autumn (date and venue to be confirmed).

 Since 2016, in addition to the new recipients, 14 cities and regions have received the UCI Bike City label:

Bergen (Norway), Drenthe (the Netherlands), Fyn (Denmark), Gelderland (the Netherlands), Heusden-Zolder (Belgium), Limburg-Valkenburg (the Netherlands), Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (France), Vancouver (Canada), Woensdrecht (the Netherlands), Yorkshire (Great Britain), Copenhagen (Denmark), Glasgow (Great Britain), Paris (France) and Tirol (Austria).


About the new label-holders:

Flanders (Belgium)
Host of numerous UCI events in the past, Flanders welcomes the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships and UCI Road World Championships in 2021.
The Flemish cycling policy plan was adopted in 2016, with the priorities focused on enhancing bicycle use - namely commuting and school traffic - and increasing road safety for cyclists. A new strategy for bicycle use will be implemented in the run-up to the 2021 UCI Road World Championships, allowing for a collaboration between all governments, knowledge institutes, social organisations and platforms, in order to strengthen the current cycling policy. Investments in cycling infrastructure should increase to 300 million euros a year by 2024, with more than 150 million euros invested in 2019. The network of cycling highways in Flanders includes 119 individual routes and a total of 2,650 km, while Flanders residents use their bike for 16% of their daily trips. The Flanders road safety plan has the ambitious goal of zero deadly victims by 2050.

Val di Sole (Italy)
With a strong focus on off-road events, Val Di Sole has hosted several UCI World Championships and UCI World Cups for mountain bike, trials and four-cross, and will host the 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
A multi-year strategy for cycling – aimed to increase bike usage by 15 to 20% - is endorsed by political leadership and includes numerous initiatives, including cycle path extensions, financing local bike associations, incentives for cycling to work, introductory cycling activities, and volunteer opportunities at UCI events. Approximately 10% of the total Val di Sole budget is dedicated to cycling, and existing infrastructures – of which a key focus is off-road participation - include 35km of bike paths, the Val Di Sole Bike Park, several bike parks and pump tracks for kids, and 300km of mountain bike trails. Road safety campaigns and speed reduction measures have focused on iconic mountain passes, while several education courses and closed road events cater to children.

Fayetteville (Etats-Unis d'Amérique) 
Fayetteville will host the 2022 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships. It has also been investing heavily in cyclo-cross with a series of events that started in 2019 with FayetteCross.
Fayetteville has a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan which was most recently updated in 2020 with a goal to build an “all ages and abilities” network of bicycle infrastructure, including a 100-mile paved trail network and adding on-street connections to points of interest and residential areas over the next decade. With over 47 miles of paved trails already in place, and 1/3 of residents already riding a bicycle on a regular basis, Fayetteville’s Active Transportation Plan endeavours to connect trails to within a ½ mile of every Fayetteville resident and reach 15% in active transportation mode share. On average, 19% of Fayetteville’s annual transportation budget has been invested in bicycle projects over the last 5 years. Several road safety and children’s cycling initiatives are regularly being delivered, while the city’s mobility plan includes extensive community outreach surveys to measure and assess progress. 

Wollongong (Australia)
Wollongong will host the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, as well as the Australian 2022 Masters and Junior National Championships.
Wollongong’s Cycling Strategy 2030, which sets out a 10-year vision where cycling is a preferred transport option, was recently endorsed and adopted by City Council and includes numerous and ambitious targets to measure its effectiveness. In the four-year capital works programme, Council spends $29M on cycling related infrastructure projects, representing 21% of transport related spend. Since 2013, Wollongong has built, renewed and upgraded 27km of shared path and cycling routes; by 2030 it seeks to provide an additional 50km of on-road cycling routes and 35km of off-road cycling routes. In partnership with AusCycling’s Ride Nation programme, Wollongong has developed the first bike broad based cycling skills and education programme, which will see more than 10,000 students trained in riding and 1000 teachers undertaking bike instructor training.

Concerning events, the UCI Management Committee awarded the following:

  • 2021 UCI Trials World Youth Games:  Cordon (France), from 23 to 25 July
  • 2026 UCI BMX World Championships: Brisbane (Australia), from 21 to 26 July.

Following the cancellation of the 2021 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) announced last December, and after searching for a solution to nevertheless hold the event this year, the UCI has unfortunately had to take the difficult decision not to stage these Championships in 2021.

As for the 2021 UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships, initially scheduled to take place in Cairo (Egypt) from 5 to 9 April, they have been postponed to a later date in 2021 as a result of the travel restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is important to be sure of a good participation in these UCI Worlds, as Junior athletes have been especially affected by the restrictions. The new dates of the event will be announced as soon as possible.

 The UCI Management Committee also approved the following calendars:

Moreover, as part of the qualification system for the Tokyo Olympic Games, the UCI Management Committee approved the following events as qualification events:

  • 2021 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup: Stuttgart (Germany), 8-9 May
  • 2021 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup: Bogota (Colombia), 29-30 May.

These rounds of the 2021 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup will be the last qualification events for BMX Racing at the Tokyo Olympic Games which will take place in July. Furthermore, two other rounds of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup will be organised before the end of 2021 in Sakarya (Turkey).

After the two days of meeting, the UCI President David Lappartient declared: “The safety and well-being of athletes are at the heart of the UCI’s preoccupations. I am pleased that several decisions have been taken to improve these, notably a series of unprecedented measures to reinforce safety during road races and support for the CPA and CPA Women, organisations representing men and women riders, in this period that is difficult for all our sport’s members.

“The current situation has highlighted the incredible potential of the bicycle, with the restrictions introduced by authorities worldwide leading to an impressive growth in bike riding. As we wish to play a leading role in the promotion of the bicycle, the UCI has laid the foundations for its sustainable development strategy, a domain in which it will reinforce its activities. At this point I would like to welcome the new cities and regions which have obtained the UCI Bike City label. They join a historic movement for the growth of cycling.

“After 2020, a year in which the UCI invested a great deal to successfully ensure the staging of a maximum of major events despite the Covid-19 pandemic, it will continue to follow the evolution of the situation with all its stakeholders and adapt its measures, notably its health protocols, to ensure the season 2021 runs as smoothly as possible.”

The next meeting of the UCI Management Committee will take place in Lausanne (Switzerland) on 2-3 June 2021.