Nearly two years to the day since a fixed post in the road caused a crash that seriously injured Peter Stetina and Sergio Pardilla during the 2015 Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the UCI has updated its specification for WorldTour race organisers, implementing a number of safety recommendations that include regulations for the final kilometer of courses.
Riders organisations such as the ANAPRC (Association of North American Professional Cyclist) and the CPA (Cyclistes Professionels Associes) have advocated for the measures since this crash and the death of Antoine Demoitie in last year's Gent-Wevelgem.
"We are delighted of this result which meant for us a lot of work," said Gianni Bugno, president of the CPA. "After the serious incidents of the last year, the CPA member associations have done their best to collect the information that the riders deemed useful to improve the safety during the races. The result is a plan that we presented in many occasions to the stakeholders and which has been finally implemented."
The UCI's Security and Technical Regulations Working Group approved the plans to improve the scouting of the final kilometer, adding a risk assessment requirement for the last 3km of the route of each race, or each stage of a stage race. Organisers are now required to detail possible risks and take measures to mitigate them, and report these to the UCI commisaires before the start of the event.
Organisers must also record videos of the final 3-5km of a route to highlight any potential dangers and provide the videos to teams so their riders can be forewarned of obstacles. The specifications also call for the appointing of a Safety and Environment manager to preview the route 5-30 minutes ahead of the race arrival to scout for any unforeseen dangers. Finally, the regulations now call for barriers in the last 300m of a mountain stage or 500m of a flat finish that do not encroach on the course.
ANAPRC executive director Michael Carcaise hailed the move. "This marks real progress for rider safety, and is yet another example why riders must continue to organize in the CPA and engage the governance process," he said.
The rules only apply to WorldTour races for now, but the CPA and ANAPRC will continue to advocate for their inclusion across the board. "Our commitment is not finished yet because the working group is continuing the discussion to improve the UCI regulations on the security," Bugno said, "but an important result for the riders has already been achieved. I want to thank especially the organizers that, even in this difficult time for their economy, put the safety of our athletes first, and thanks to the entire Safety and Technical Regulation Working Group and the UCI, for listening to our requests."
The victory is the third for the riders' groups, after last year's implementation of the Extreme Weather Protocol and regulations for the race vehicle convoy put in place in February.