At Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the successful break which included Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was seen riding on footpaths in favour of the cobbled roads which had provoked Lotto-Belisol's Marcel Sieberg to question the effectiveness of the implementation of a new UCI ruling which states that it is "strictly prohibited to use sidewalks/pavements, paths or cycle paths" that do not form part of the course.
The law which was first reported on in November last year following the UCI Management meeting in Florence during the road race championships was one of several minor changes to the governing body's laws.
In response to the break using bike and footpaths, Sieberg tweeted after the race: For what we have new rules??? Front group all on the asphalt *bike path* Peloton all on the cobbles,” and a photo of the break which contained several Omega Pharma and Belkin riders on a footpath.
He followed up his initial tweet with: "And now we know why we lost 30sec just on this point. Come on guys....everyone or no one."
The introduction of Rule 1.2.064 came in to effect on January 1, 2014. The full rule states: "It is strictly prohibited to use sidewalks/pavements, paths or cycle paths alongside the roadway that do not form part of the course. Non-respect of this requirement is sanctioned an accordance with Article 12.1.040.14bis, without prejudice to any other sanctions that may apply."
With riders ignoring the rule at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, it is unclear whether they will be punished or how the rule will be enforced for the remainder of the cobbled classics. It is still possible for riders to race in the gutter of roads but the rule makes positioning in races more important.
The rationale for the rule appears to be to stop riders taking short cuts to gain an unfair advantage on their rivals along with reducing the risk of crashes involving road furniture and spectators although how it implemented remains unclear.