Tim Wellens at the Vuelta a España.

UCI reiterates ban on invisible aero bars

Updates to the UCI's rules include language reiterating a prohibition on "using the forearms as a point of support on the handlebar" outside of time trials.

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After announcing a number of updates to its protocols in a wide-ranging statement on Thursday, the UCI provided updated text for its rules and regulations in a memorandum on Monday. As expected following Thursday’s statement, new UCI rules that will go into effect on April 1 reiterate a prohibition on the so-called “super tuck,” but in a less expected development, the UCI’s updated rules also include language reiterating a prohibition on “using the forearms as a point of support on the handlebar” outside of time trials.

In other words, riders will no longer be allowed to employ what some refer to as “invisible aero bars,” the extremely common technique of resting on the forearms on the handlebars of a road bike in a way that emulates the reduced drag of riding with aero bars.

The language explicitly referring to the tactic is included in a new section focused on the “Position on the bicycle” that also includes the “super tuck” ban, although the new section points to rules in an already existing section of the UCI code, Article 1.3.008. Titled “Position,” that section has existed for years.

Article 1.3.008 reads, “The rider shall normally assume a sitting position on the bicycle. This position requires that the only points of support are the following: the feet on the pedals, the hands on the handlebars and the seat on the saddle.”

Monday’s memorandum clarifies that the UCI plans to start enforcing those rules more strictly moving forward from April 1.

The memorandum also included updates to a number of other areas of the rules. New safety protocols call for “a zone of at least 300 meters before and 100 meters after” a race finish to be protected by barriers when possible based on the terrain, with barriers required to “be weighted down so that they do not move in strong winds or when subject to pressure by spectators or other forces.”

Riders who violate the rules on littering will risk time penalties or even disqualification.

The updated rules also include more defined language prohibiting riders from discarding their trash outside of specified areas, while also providing for the inclusion of “litter zones of sufficient length situated every 30-40 kilometers throughout the route of the event or stage.”