UCI to introduce barrier standards as part of road safety measures in 2021

Jumbo-Visma’s Dylan Groenewegen (in yellow) was handed a nine-month ban by the UCI for having caused the crash at the 2020 Tour de Pologne that left Dutch road race champion Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) fighting for his life
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The UCI announced Thursday a broad range of new safety measures that will be implemented in men’s and women’s road cycling 2021. Among the 14 key measures are the creation of safety managers at events, a database of incidents with which to draw on for targeted action, revised measures for organisers, drivers and TV crew, and improved security and barrier standards for the finals at events, which are all part of the package of measures that will be implemented ahead of next season.

“The measures announced today enable us to take an important step forward in the reinforcement of safety at road races, which has been one of the major priorities of the UCI for several years," said UCI President David Lappartient.

"All professional road cycling families have shared their concerns and proposed solutions, and it is on this basis that the announced measures were drawn up before being approved by the different competent bodies, including the Professional Cycling Council (PCC), which brings together representatives of teams, organisers and riders. Cycling now has a solid plan of action, which we will continue to improve in consultation with all concerned.”

The sport governing body created a working group dedicated to rider safety after a series of horrific crashes that took place during the revised international road calendar this year. 

Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was put into an induced coma after crashing through the barriers when he was squeezed at high speeds by Dylan Groenewegen at the Tour de Pologne, teammate Remco Evenepoel fractured his pelvis after crashing over a low wall on a difficult descent at Il Lombardia, and a car took out in Max Schachmann in the final kilometres of the race, leaving the Bora-Hansgrohe rider with a fractured collarbone.

Riders criticised the UCI, race organisers, and the CPA riders association after the crashes. Some of the riders accepted that they are sometimes responsible for crashes but they also suggested that more could be done to reduce the risks of racing.

The working group is led by Lappartient and the PCC President Tom Van Damme, and coordinated by the UCI’s Sports Department. The members of the working group include the AIGCP teams association representatives Iwan Spekenbrink, Richard Plugge, Patrick Lefevere and Carsten Jeppesen, the AIOCC organisers association of Christian Prudhomme, Richard Chassot and Thierry Gouvenou, and the CPA riders association Gianni Bugno, Pascal Chanteur, Laura Mora, Philippe Gilbert and Matteo Trentin. 

The main measures will include a new role created at the UCI called the Safety Manager along with an Event Safety Manager at each race, dedicated to the safety and the supervision of safety at events.

There will be a tool created to evaluate of risks in the proposed route weeks ahead of the event along with a databased of incidents, both meant to help target safety actions.

There will be improved safety measures for organisers, drivers, caravan regulations, regulators, TV production, and teams. There will also better barriers standards implemented in finals, and other 'delicate sectors', in particular for bunch sprints.

More responsibility will also be placed on organisers, teams and riders in terms of potentially dangerous conduct of riders, discarding of waste and objects outside dedicated zones, and supervision when it comes to the use of equipment such as disc brakes.

The measures will focus on the WorldTour and Women's WorldTour, and then apply progressively across the UCI international Road Calendar.

“As professional rider directly impacted by these new measures, I am extremely pleased to have been involved and listened to throughout the consultation process led by the UCI," Gilbert said. 

"This allowed me to directly express our concerns on important topics such as barrier design and ensuring race convoy vehicles are operated safely around riders. I am pleased with the outcome and glad to see that my input will provide greater safety for us, and for the next generation of riders that will follow."

The UCI told Cyclingnews that the women's event organisers, teams and riders were represented among this working group;  AIGCP through Plugge and Spekenbrink, who will both have women’s teams, Jumbo-Visma and Team DSM, respectively in 2021; the CPA represents women’s riders through its women's chapter managed by Alessandra Cappellotto; and AIOCC organisers includes Gouvenou, at ASO, that run women's events La Course, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne.

“The working group includes members with a wide range of experience covering men’s and women’s professional road cycling," The UCI told Cyclingnews. "Certain measures will be applicable across every event class and category for both men and women, while specific measures will be implemented for the UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour in their common Specifications for Organisers document.”

The women's rider association, The Cyclists' Alliance, and the new women's teams association, UNIO, were not part of the working group because they are not formally recognised by the UCI. However, UNIO, is expected to be granted recognistion by the sport governing body in the future.

“Recognition of UNIO by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is in progress: we’re supporting their approach, and we have asked them to register the association, which they are in the process of doing. They have already been part of a number of working groups, notably in the reshaping of the UCI International Calendar to resume the 2020 women's road season," the UCI told Cyclingnews.

The PCC has approved all the key principles for the series of measures, which aim to improve safety conditions during road races, and will next be submitted to the UCI Management Committee for implementation in 2021.

Key safety measures

  • the creation of the position of Safety Manager within the UCI Sports Department; the person in this role will be dedicated to the safety and the supervision of safety at events on the UCI International Road Calendar;
  • the reinforcement of the obligation of all event organisers to appoint and train an Event Safety Manager; the UCI will develop the content of the Event Safety Manager’s mission and will set up a certification system based on experience and training;
  • the establishment, with the collaboration of an external service provider with expertise in data collection and analysis, of a database of incidents and accidents that have occurred at major UCI WorldTour events in the last five years, allowing for more effective targeting of actions to be taken by the UCI for in-race safety;
  • the introduction, again with support from an external service provider, and with the help of new technologies, of a tool enabling the organiser to benefit from an evaluation of risks in the proposed route several weeks before the start of the event; this tool will enable the UCI and organisers to target their actions to ensure race route security and identify potential risks before the events;
  • the revision – with a view to the reinforcement - of safety measures featured in various guides published by the UCI for different stakeholders (organisers, drivers, regulators, TV production, teams etc.) where necessary;
  • the enhancement and modernisation of the specifications concerning obstacle protection elements used along the course, as well as the harmonisation of signalisation used along the race route;
  • the improvement of communication with riders when important decisions are taken, as well as the creation of a more detailed protocol dealing with the neutralisation of events;
  • improved security in delicate sectors, especially the finish zone and its barricade lines, with the establishment, led by experts, of a set of standards for barriers used in the final of events, in particular for bunch sprints; such standards necessarily being established in consultation with stakeholders and taking into account the characteristics of modern professional cycling;
  • stronger regulations concerning potentially dangerous conduct of riders, such as throwing drink bottles on the road or within the peloton (that may pose a danger to following riders), and taking up dangerous positions on the bike (especially in descents);
  • review of the regulation regarding the discarding of waste and objects outside dedicated zones, with appropriate sanctions;
  • better supervision when it comes to the use of equipment by teams that could cause varying problems (for example disc brakes and bottle cages); the UCI Equipment Commission will be asked to work on these specific subjects with industry experts and the sport’s different stakeholders;
  • stricter directives for the conduct of different members of the race convoy (motorcycle riders, vehicle drivers and also television helicopter pilots);
  • the establishment of a logbook which will enable the monitoring of drivers’ experience and eventually lead to the application of a licence points system for drivers in the race convoy;
  • the establishment of a more detailed and structured briefing for all drivers before the start of each event, which will be jointly led by the President of the Commissaires Panel and the organiser.

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