UCI ready to shorten road races in extreme heat at World Championships

Several daily temperature checks to be completed throughout

Heat is going to be a big issue at this year’s UCI Road World Championships, with temperatures expected to near 40 Celsius despite the later date. With this in mind, the UCI has taken some measures to ensure the safety of the riders and staff, including daily temperature checks and a ‘beat the heat’ booklet.

On the UCI website, the governing body explained that a group of four experts - Dr. Anton Zasada, Dr. Olaf Schumacher, Dr. Sébastien Racinais and Dr. Juan Manuel Alonso – will give daily assessments of the weather forecast and convene before each road race. Further checks, using ‘thermal stress indicators’, will be done by two UCI representatives. Decisions will then be made on the basis of these tests and consultation with Athlete’s commission president Bobbie Traksel and President of the Commissaires’ Panel Ingo Rees.

If the temperatures are considered to be too high, the men’s road race could be reduced to just 106 kilometres. The other road races may also have the number of laps completed on the Pearl reduced.

In addition to the potential shortening of the race, the UCI will supply water and ice to all of the teams, and 10,000 bidons will be available. There will be two motorbikes within the peloton for riders to collect water from should they not be able to get to a team vehicle. A booklet called ‘beat the heat’ has also been produced, detailing the effects of heat when racing and how to combat dehydration.

The Extreme Weather Protocol was brought in at the start of this season after a number of incidents in recent times. The protocol covers high temperatures, freezing rain, poor visibility, strong wind and a number of other weather conditions. So far this season, stages of Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico were cancelled, while the Clasica del Almeria was shortened due to high winds.

The UCI also detailed general plans to improve safety in races, which will be trialled at the World Championships. Road works will be undertaken to ‘remove and adapt traffic islands’ in the final 1.5 kilometres. The position of barriers will be altered ‘to take into account the width of the road in certain sections.’ Trail-type bikes without panniers will be used in the caravan and vehicles will only be driven by people with ‘significant’ previous experience of driving at races.

The World Championships begins this weekend on Sunday, October 9 with the team time trials. 

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