The UCI is banning the ‘super tuck’

Sergio Higuita in super tuck mode at the 2020 Tour de France.

by Dane Cash

photography by Gruber Images


The UCI announced a number of updates to its rules and to its enforcement of them in a wide-ranging statement on Thursday that included several new safety provisions drafted after “a long consultation process.” Among the most notable changes to the organization’s safety protocols is a commitment to enforce a ban on the so-called “super tuck” starting on April 1.

The tactic of hunching over the bars while putting weight on the top tube in an attempt to present a low aerodynamic profile has become increasingly popular in recent years. Chris Froome notably employed the technique as he soloed to victory on stage 8 of the 2016 Tour de France, and it has been used by countless other riders in major races over the past several seasons.

The use of the “super tuck” has courted controversy, however, as many have questioned the safety of the method, both for the rider using it and for those around that rider. Those concerns were discussed along with several others last year during meetings of the UCI Management Committee, which then drafted changes to the UCI’s safety rules.

Now, the UCI says it plans to enforce a ban on the “super tuck” as part of its rules against “dangerous conduct.” Throwing water bottles into the road, another common occurrence with potential safety implications (as Geraint Thomas experienced when he crashed out of the Giro d’Italia after hitting a wayward bottle last year) will also be prohibited.

“The UCI Management Committee also decided to reinforce the regulation concerning potentially dangerous conduct of riders, including throwing a bottle onto the road or within the peloton (which may pose a danger for following riders), and taking up dangerous positions on the bike (especially sitting on the top tube),” read a statement from the UCI.

The enforcement of those rules will take effect starting on April 1 “after a period of adjustment for riders, teams, organizers, and commissaires.”

The UCI also noted that the punishment for noncompliance will start with warnings from commissaires during “an initial education and awareness phase,” but will progress to “systematic sanctions (which could go as far as exclusion from competition)” starting in April. The organization will also undertake a campaign to educate riders and others in the pro cycling world of the new protocols over the coming weeks.

Other safety measured announced on Thursday include the creation of standards for roadside barriers, “in particular for bunch sprints,” with the process “led by experts” in consultation with cycling stakeholders. That announcement comes six months after a crash on the opening stage of the Tour of Poland that saw metal barriers become disconnected from each other, and in some cases rebound into the road, after Fabio Jakobsen crashed at high speed in the final sprint. After they are drafted, the new standards will come into effect in 2022.

The UCI’s updated safety measures also include the creation of a Safety Manager position at the UCI, a role that will be held by former pro and Tour de Romandie organizer Richard Chassot, the development of a “license points system for drivers in the race convoy,” the buildout of a database to track safety incidents, and the drafting of new provisions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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