Photo: Kristof Ramon

UCI politely requests that TDF riders pin their damn numbers on

The UCI sent a letter to teams requesting they cease using number sleeves.

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The UCI, ever vigilant, has a new target: The little sleeves pro riders sometimes put their race numbers into.

In a letter sent to every team racing the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, the UCI’s Head of Road and Innovation, Mick Rogers, politely requested that teams cease to use sleeved number fixation systems like the one produced by NoPinz. The issue is visibility, as the sleeved systems can make it more difficult to read rider numbers.

The letter, obtained by CyclingTips, strikes an interesting balance between apologetic and stern. Rogers “kindly requests” that during all road stages “rider numbers are fixed on the outer layer of the jersey/skinsuit and not placed in pin-less number fixation systems/pockets.” There is no threat of additional consequences for teams that do not comply, and an exception is made for time trials, including the prologue in Copenhagen next week.

The letter goes on to list the relevant UCI rules:

Article 1.3.029: “No item of clothing may hide the lettering on the jersey or the rider’s identification number, particularly in competition and at official ceremonies.”

Article 1.3.076: “Riders shall ensure that their identification number is visible and legible at all times. The identification number shall be well fixed and may not be folded or altered.”

The number sleeves stick to a jersey or shorts and hold a rider’s race number inside. They have gained popularity in recent years alongside the rise of the road-stage skinsuit and an ever-increasing focus on aerodynamic efficiency. The century-old tradition of pinning a number to one’s rear pockets before each race day has slowly given way to a peel-and-stick approach that can result in modest aerodynamic gains albeit at immeasurable cost to one’s style and self-worth. It’s a tradeoff more and more pros are willing to make.

A flapping number, as any amateur racer can tell you, can be the difference between a sure victory and ignominious defeat.

The UCI’s issue with the sleeves is that they can be difficult to see through in the wrong light and the numbers can get crumpled inside them, making the number hard to read.

“Several cycling stakeholders (UCI commissaires, Race Organisers, Cycling Media and Fans) have raised their concerns about the lack of visibility of rider numbers placed in pin- less number fixation systems/pockets (NoPinz and similar),” the letter reads.

The UCI is currently discussing an alternative number fixation system, according to the letter. Perhaps this sticky number pocket scourge is the impetus needed for permanent rider numbers.

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