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UCI plans to keep riders in 'bubbles' when racing returns

Joseph Delves
22 Jul 2020

UCI releases procedures for restarting the road cycling season

The UCI has released a 19-page document setting out the rules it intends for the restarted road racing season. Split between mandatory measures and good practice, the document also attempts to provide a way of rating the risk of hosting an event.

This sees events graded between five categories of risk, from low to very high. The perceived risk of an event is then weighed against mitigation measures within the locality.

In theory, lots of very complicated formulae then get employed to decide whether the race takes place.

Should it go ahead, as most of the big events are planning to, riders and staff will be subject to a series of mandatory measures, aimed at creating a bubble around competing athletes.

‘One of the general principles behind the instructions for organising competitions is the creation and maintenance of protective "bubbles" around the teams which, in the context of road races, will link to form a "peloton bubble",’ explains the UCI.

‘The measures implemented will be based on controlling entry into the "team bubble", and preserving the "team bubbles" and the "peloton bubble" from contact with people whose health status has not been checked.'

These measures will see riders and staff checked for symptoms before travelling to the race. While moving between stages, each team will be allocated a separate floor at any hotels, along with a separate dining room. An isolation room for any suspected cases must also be made available.

Team doctors will be responsible for checking each rider daily, while an overall Covid-19 coordinator for each event will be responsible for ensuring all measures are followed.

On the road, feed zones will have to be adapted to ensure social distancing, while fans will be kept away. The number of spectators at the start and finish of each race will also be limited.

Races with more than 10 stages, such as all three Grand Tours, will also see riders and staff tested during rest days.

While threatening fines for failing to implement any mandatory measures, the UCI's document doesn’t give guidance on what would happen should a number of riders fall ill during an event.

Having faced criticism for leaving responsibility as to the cancellation of a race in progress to local authorities, the UCI has now clarified that it will also step in if it feels it necessary to stop an event.

With the calendar due to restart with Strade Bianche next Saturday, 1st August, teams and race organisers have also been implementing their own measures. Many teams have also been taking to social media to remind fans to keep their distance from riders.