A safety proposal drafted by the Cyclistes Professionels Associes (CPA) and overwhelmingly supported by the riders, is due to be presented at the next meeting of the Pro Cycling Council this week. The riders' association seeks to convince the UCI to expand its rules on technical specifications for safe race courses and to monitor and enforce those standards.
The CPA press release stated that the plan was submitted to the UCI and discussed with the organisation's Road Commission. "Since the CPA presented its security plan, many more riders got in touch with the CPA in order to add their ideas to the project, showing a lot of enthusiasm for the initiative. The riders have, also through social media, asked the UCI to support the plan of the CPA that collects their ideas and the advice of those who really live the risks during the races."
The CPA stated that 96 per cent of the riders voted in favour of the plan, but did not mention how many votes were taken.
"We expect that the UCI and the other stakeholders will listen to our suggestions and that they will make them effective by adopting our points into the action plan that the UCI is generating," CPA President Gianni Bugno said. "We plan a further discussion of this issue during the Tour de France, when, together with the AICGP [professional teams' association], we will organize a meeting where the UCI and the organizers will be invited in order not to lose the attention on this important subject."
The proposal calls for tighter technical specifications for the final three kilometres of any race. Current UCI regulations only call for barriers for 300m before the finish line and 100m after. The CPA wants the final 3km reviewed the day before the race, the morning of the race and again within 30 minutes of arrival, to be cleared of debris, and for any obstacles to be removed or protected by hay bales and staffed by marshals bearing yellow flags and whistles.
Rules such as these would have prevented the grievous injury of riders like Peter Stetina and Sergio Pardilla in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco last year when a series of bollards were left unprotected in the road in the final kilometre of the sprint in the first stage.
"The UCI must set a mandatory minimum standard for safe course design in the final 3 kilometers -- where riders are pushing the hardest and taking the highest risks to get a win," Michael Carcaise, Executive Director of ANAPRC said. "Race organizers and course designers currently operate without any regulations except 2.2.017 [requiring 300 meters of barriers before the finish line]. We believe it is part of the UCI's role to establish that standard."
They also call for barriers 500m before the finish line, and 100m after, and specify that the barriers used must have feet that do not encroach on the roadway. Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) is perhaps the most high-profile rider to crash due to barrier feet when he went down face-first in the sprint of the Eneco Tour in 2014 and suffered serious facial injuries.