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UCI revises level-crossing rule after Paris-Roubaix outrage

The UCI has revised its rules and regulations to include more specific guidelines for the peloton approaching a level crossing at a set of railroad tracks. Revisions to the rules became a priority after riders continued crossing over train tracks after the barriers had closed at Paris-Roubaix last April, just seconds before a high-speed TGV train arrived.

The original text in the UCI Rules and Regulations handbook stated that the riders were forbidden to cross a level crossing when the barrier is down. However, some suggested that text was left open to interpretation, and that if the level crossing wasn’t completely closed then it was OK to cross.

As seen at Paris-Roubaix, the front end of the main peloton barrelled through the level crossing when the red lights were flashing and the barriers were beginning to close. The riders continued crossing even after the barriers had completely closed.

Race officials did not disqualify the large group of riders because they said it was impossible to stop the peloton when the barriers began closing as the riders were just 10 metres away. They neutralised the front end of the peloton that had gotten through the level crossing to allow the second portion of the field to catch back up after the train had passed.

The French national railway company SNCF described the riders' actions as "extremely grave and irresponsible actions which could have been tragic." In addition, the UCI requested a comprehensive report following the incident.

The incident prompted the UCI to adjust the level crossing rule 2.3.034, which now states “It shall be strictly forbidden to cross level crossings when the barrier is down or closing, the warning signal ringing or flashing."

“Apart from risking the penalty for such an offence as provided by law, offending riders shall be eliminated from the competition by the commissaires.”

In addition, UCI rule 2.3.035 states additional applications of the level crossing rule:

1. One or more riders who have broken away from the field are held up at a level crossing but the gates open before the field catches up. No action shall be taken and the closed level crossing shall be considered a mere race incident;

2. One or more riders with more than 30 seconds' lead on the field are held up at a level crossing and the rest of the field catches up while the gates are still closed. In this case the race shall be neutralised and restarted with the same gaps, once the official vehicles preceding the race have passed; If the lead is less than 30 seconds, the closed level crossing shall be considered a mere race incident;

3. If one or more leading riders make it over the crossing before the gates shut and the remainder of the riders are held up, no action shall be taken and the closed level crossing shall be considered a race incident;

4. If a group of riders is split into two groups following the closure of a level crossing, the first group will be slowed down or stopped in order to allow the delayed riders to return to the first group;

5. Any other situation (prolonged closure of the barrier, etc.) shall be resolved by the commissaires.

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Kirsten Frattini

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.