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by Dane Cash
February 13, 2020
Photography by Kristof Ramon
The UCI has updated its rules to include regulations on the inclusion of gravel sections in pro road races.
With more and more races joining the likes of Strade Bianche and Tro-Bro Léon in featuring unpaved sectors, the UCI has now codified language that sets up protocols for organizers planning to include gravel in their events. The regulations include stipulations that ensure gravel sectors are planned well in advance and designed with rider safety as a priority.
“If an organizer wishes to include unpaved roads in an event, the UCI must be informed at the time of registering the event on the calendar,” says a newly updated section of the UCI’s rules and regulations, 2.2.015. “Furthermore, the organizer shall make every effort to ensure the safety of the riders, spectators, and race followers and that the event runs smoothly in sporting terms and with regards to equitable treatment of participants.”
Under the new rules, teams must be given “a detailed description of the relevant sections (length, type of surface, degree of difficulty of each section, road width, etc.).” Furthermore, sections must be rideable in any weather conditions, an area of course design protocol that became a topic of conversation last season at the Vuelta a España. An already tricky gravel sector on stage 9 of last year’s race became even more treacherous as heavy rainfall pelted the course, with Primoz Roglic and Miguel Ángel López notably hitting the deck on the day.
The UCI’s rules update also includes the more general provision that organizers must “ensure the safety of the course” and also ensure that race vehicles are able to follow riders on the terrain.
Particularly noteworthy is the final provision in the updated section on unpaved roads, which notes that the “UCI may refuse to register an event on the calendar and/or refuse the inclusion of an unpaved section.”
In short, the UCI will have discretion over whether road races can ultimately add gravel to their routes and still remain under the umbrella of the governing body.