By Kirsten Robbins in Clovis, California
Pat McQuaid, the president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), said that the 3:1 rule will not be enforced in the Tour of California's stage 6, a 24-kilometre time trial held in Solvang on Friday. McQuaid also emphasised that there were no changes to current rulings, but that existing regulations will be strictly enforced very soon.
UCI code 1.3.024 states that the ratio between the length and the width of equipment cannot exceed 3:1. Nervousness had swept through the field this week with potential last-minute changes necessary to the time trial machines.
McQuaid emphasised that teams not complying with the code do not need to panic – yet. "They can use their equipment this week but we are going to start rigidly enforcing the rules very soon," he said.
"Just to make it clear this is not a new rule or a revision of an old rule," said McQuaid regarding UCI codes 1.3.023 applying to frames and 1.3.024 applying to frame accessories. "This rule has been there for several years now." It has come about largely because manufacturers, with the assistance of riders and teams, are looking to try to make refinements in order to gain split seconds here and there."
Many of the teams at the Tour of California, with the exception of Astana, have time trial equipment that does not comply with the UCI code. "We are not going to show up on Friday and say the riders can't use their bikes," he continued. "That would not be good for the integrity of the sport."
But teams are spending more and more time in the wind tunnels for testing. "The UCI has noticed that in the past year or two a certain number of teams are pushing that rule to its limit," McQuaid said.
The UCI codes for equipment are set in place by a team of officials who specialise in materials. The commissaires at the time trial in Solvang have been given orders to take photos, measurements and write reports on the time trial bikes being used during stage 6.
The reports will be sent to the UCI following the event. "We are examining the situation to find out exactly where the problems are and where the rule is being pushed to and/or beyond its limit. This will give us more information as to how we can implement the rule and adhere to it correctly. "
The UCI modified the regulations so that cyclists competing in the hour record had to use a traditional racing bike. McQuaid compared the sports evolving technology and regulations implements from then to now. "I think people now agree with the decision that the UCI made regarding traditional equipment," said McQuaid. "We try to control the sport and the technical innovations in the sport for the benefit of the sport. Manufacturers are constantly trying to come up with new things for marketing reasons. It's a difficult balance that we try to achieve."