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UCI eases rules on time trial positions

The UCI informed bicycle manufacturers in a letter from UCI Technical Coordinator Matthieu Mottet on Friday that it would be relaxing rules on time trial bike fits and implementing an improved testing scheme for race officials that will be faster and more uniform from race to race.

UCI rules 1.3.013 and 1.3.023 still state that the tip of the saddle must be 5cm behind the plane of the center of the bottom bracket spindle, and arm positions are restricted by limiting the difference in height between elbow supports and the lower aero bar to +/- 10cm. They were put into place in years past to outlaw extreme arm positions such as the Chris Boardman 'superman' and Floyd Landis 'praying mantis'.

Riders (usually shorter or taller than average) have been allowed to request a morphological exemption to one of the two rules for years, but the revised rules allowing an exemption to either saddle position or bar drop in 2014 can be requested without riders having to be physically measured on the bike by the race officials.

The UCI has also struck wording that required a horizontal arm position, but keeps the overall distance between the plane of the bottom bracket spindle and tip of aero bars limited to 75cm, or a maximum of 80cm with an exemption.

"This means that, from 2014, only the bicycle will be checked and the rider will no longer be asked to attend together with his or her bicycle," the UCI letter stated. "This will mean that riders are not disturbed in their preparations just before the start of the race. These changes will afford riders more freedom while avoiding any risk of disqualification during the race due to the adoption of a non - regulatory position that is sometimes involuntary because of the effort involved."

The UCI instituted a 1:3 ratio rule in aero bar position after Landis and Levi Leipheimer began using the praying mantis position in 2006. Leipheimer was forced to change his position just before the time trial in the 2007 Tour de France.

The UCI delayed strict implementation of the rules ahead of the 2009 Tour of California, but enforced them in earnest in 2010, effectively banning the Specialized Shiv ridden by then-world champion Fabian Cancellara in early 2010.

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