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UCI eases rules to break bidon bottleneck at Giro d'Italia

An EF Education-Nippo soigneur waits with bidons for riders in the Giro d'Italia
An EF Education-Nippo soigneur waits with bidons for riders in the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The new UCI rules on littering have been further modified for the Giro d'Italia - starting on stage 11, riders will not be sanctioned for throwing bidons to the public on climbs in the last 50 kilometres of a stage, provided the bottles are discarded in the right way.

The UCI announced on Tuesday's first rest day that it has agreed, along with Giro organisers RCS Sport, the riders association CPA and teams association AIGCP to alter the rules, but there are still caveats in place.

Riders must "ensure that the throwing of their bottle towards the public does not present any danger, either to spectators (in the case of too violent a throw) or to other riders (in the case of the bottle being thrown and rolling back onto the road)", the UCI stated.

"In case of non-compliance with these conditions and precautions, the sanctions will be maintained in accordance with the UCI regulations currently in force."

Under a batch of new rules implemented as of April 1, 2021, riders have been prohibited from discarding waste outside of designated zones in order to protect the environment from litter.

However, the severity of the initial punishment was met with heavy criticism from riders after the first round of penalties, which saw riders like Michael Schär and Letizia Borghesi disqualified from Tour of Flanders for throwing bottles to fans.

A first offence warning was instituted after the CPA representatives, including women's member Christine Majerus, collected complaints from riders.

"They should definitely punish when we throw things away in the middle of nowhere, but throwing bottles to fans, I think we all agree that's also part of cycling - and that's why also spectators are coming," Majerus told Cyclingnews earlier this month.

She also questioned whether the bidon rule went counter to the rules which were put in place to improve rider safety by creating zones where large numbers of bottles were sent flying.

In its latest announcement, the UCI added more wiggle room to the rules for the Giro d'Italia, confirming Majerus' statement that punishment would be meted out at the discretion of the race jury. 

"In specific race situations which would lead riders to dispose of bottles or waste outside the zones provided for this purpose (which is prohibited), the Commissaires' Panel, as authorised by the UCI regulations in force, shall have the possibility of not sanctioning the rider if it deems the situation exceptional."

RCS Sport have already had waste collection zones in place, marked by oversized inflatable orange bidons, where riders let loose, sending empty bidons and empty gel packs flying to the road side.

The UCI said the litter zones will be extended to one to two kilometres in length, if possible, but organisers will still be obliged to collect all the waste in those zones.

"These adaptations to the current rules are part of the UCI's desire to learn from the experiences of the various stakeholders at events, in order to have coherent rules that ensure the safety of all concerned. 

"These new rules will be evaluated to determine whether or not they should be applied in the future to all or part of the events on the UCI International Road Calendar."

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