Throwing an empty bidon away just anywhere this weekend in Belgium could be an expensive proposition. UCI rules now call for fines of 200 to 500 Swiss francs and, in certain circumstances, up to 1000 Swiss francs.
UCI Jury Commissioner for the 'opening weekend' races of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Philippe Marien, told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad: "Dropping a water bottle into the canal or leaving trash on the road is no longer acceptable in this day and age.
"We have to stop those riders who leave their garbage everywhere. We have to stop those who, just after they ride next to the team car, immediately throw their bottle in the air.
"WorldTour pros have an exemplary function. With higher fines, we want set standards and head in a responsible, ecological way. Waste zones are provided, shortly before the feed zone and just after. In addition, waste can be dumped in a planned waste zone some 20 kilometres from the finish."
The highest fines are for throwing a bidon into the public "in a dangerous manner". It is not forbidden to give empty bidons to fans, but it needs to be done differently, according to Marien.
"You can gently move towards the audience, or hand it over to the team car, of course. A rider who throws a half-full or empty bidon into the audience full of adrenaline, that is life-threatening. We do not want to see that anymore."
Veteran pro Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) says changes are underway in the field. While he may not know all the rules, he says, "I do know that I – and also a bunch of colleagues – put my papers and gels in my back pocket until I reach the waste zone."
While he may not throw bidons on to the ground, he still likes the idea of throwing them to fans. "A child likes to have an empty bidon as a souvenir. It also belongs somewhat to the charm of racing."
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