The UCI has introduced a minor rule change that will prohibit riders from racing on footpaths, cycle paths and tracks during races.
Riders often jump off the road, cut across roundabouts and use the footpath to gain a slight advantage, especially in the Classics in northern Europe. However riders will be fined and possibly risk elimination from a race if they do not respect the new rule from January 1, 2014.
The idea of the new rule appears to be to stop riders taking short cuts to gain an unfair advantage on their rivals and reduce the risk of crashes involving road furniture and spectators. Riders will still be able to race in the gutter of roads but the rule make positioning in races more important.
The rule change was first spotted by the blogger inrng.com. It is included in a series of minor changes that were approved at the UCI Management meeting in Florence during the road race championships.
Other minor changes include increasing the limit on the percentage of UCI ProTeams that can be invited to HC category races in the America, Asia, Oceania and Africa Tours from 50% to 65%. This rule could impact the places for local teams in races such as the Amgen Tour of California, the USA Pro Challenge, the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman.
Rule 1.2.064 bis 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.”
It is unclear how the rule will be applied but race officials could issue fines and disqualify riders after a race as they do riders who take illegal tows from team cars and stop for natural breaks in public places.
The first real test of the rule will no doubt be at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race, the opening race of the Belgian season, on February 23.