It will not have escaped anyone's attention that the UCI came up with new safety rules a few weeks ago. Among other things, the time trial position on a road bike and the 'supertuck' are banned. Those who watched the race on TV this weekend could still frequently see many 'forbidden' positions in the pro peloton. That's not surprising, since the new rules only go into effect on April 1. We wondered how gran fondo organizers view these new provisions.
Foto: Cycling Classics France
Gran fondos are not directly covered by UCI rules. Organizers are therefore allowed to create their own regulations. Most organizations opt for their own unique regulations. Other organizations (such as the Maratona dles Dolomites and the Sportful Dolomiti Race) refer to the regulations of the national federation FCI, and supplement them with their own rules. Chances are pretty good that you've never read all of that "fine print". Frankly, neither have we. Until now. We took a closer look at the regulations of some of the major gran fondo's. Most of the things in them make perfect sense:
It gets more interesting when you start looking at where the differences arise. For example, the Ötztaler Radmarathon and GFNY prohibit not only follow cars but also private supplies. Something that is often ignored in practice, especially by the top riders. What is further noteworthy is that the regulations of GFNY are well sealed. In-ear music is prohibited and participants are required to ride in the green GFNY jersey. Strict requirements also apply to the bikes. Triathlon and time trial bikes are prohibited, as are time trial handlebars, recumbent bikes, tandems and e-bikes. GFNY is one of the few organizers that also pays special attention to safety:
"If a rider is laying on the ground and is visibly in difficulty, any following rider has to stop and help unless there are already at least three people helping."
At Cycling Classics France (organizer of La Marmotte, among others), participants must wear lights and a visibility vest. We have never seen the latter in practice. But that is certainly not the most striking rule we came across. That prize goes to the Ötztaler Radmarathon. Which prohibits, believe it or not, painting on walls:
"It is absolutely forbidden to paint on walls, barriers and buildings - like at Timmelsjoch Pass! Please keep to these rules strictly. In case of violation, participants can be disqualified and must pay the cleaning service."
We asked the organizers if they will ban the supertuck. Rik Sauser of the Riderman says he is still thinking about that. "Basically we have nothing to do with the UCI with our event, but we don't know how the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer sees it yet." Anna Valerio (Sportful Dolomiti Race) sees it differently. This gran fondo uses the national cycling federation FCI rules, and the FCI in turn falls under the UCI. "We are obliged to follow the FCI rules." So the supertuck is forbidden during the gran fondo.
Pierre-Henri Prost (Cycling Classics France) hasn't decided anything yet. "The information is new and we have not yet decided on the matter or updated the rules of our events.
For this 2021 season, we don't think we will make a change and we will see in 2022."
Uli Fluhme (GFNY) sees no need to ban the super tuck, as it is in fact already banned. "The "super tuck" falls under our rule 7.3. 'Any rider who appears to present a danger to the other riders may be disqualified by GFNY either before, during, or after the event.' Hence, the super tuck is (and was) forbidden if it presents a danger to other riders. The race judges are determining that. So it's not forbidden outright but can be in certain situations."
The big problem with rules, of course, is enforcement. A field of participants at a GF is so large that it is impossible to control all the participants. Of course, this is not an argument for not implementing this rule, after all littering is also impossible to enforce. Organizers of gran fondo's are usually a bit slower than for example the ASO, but we expect that the supertuck and other new UCI rules will definitely be banned in time, if they are not already.