The UCI has sent an email to bicycle suppliers informing them there will be a softening of the strict stance on rider positions for professional bike racing. The communication from Matthieu Mottet, the UCI's technological coordinator, is perhaps a sign that the UCI - under new management - could be more relaxed about its equipment rules set out in organisation's Lugano Charter.
The text of the letter is below:
Following a recent study on riders' positions on the road and track, the UCI has noted that the regulations that date back to 2000 no longer entirely correspond to the situation on the ground as an average of nearly 80% of riders automatically request an exemption for morphological reasons before the start of a race.
The introduction of reforms on riders' positions scheduled for 2014 will allow the checks conducted by commissaires at the start of races to be simplified and improved and their repeatability ensured. There will no longer be any need for interpretation and the regulations will be applied uniformly throughout the season. In practice, a rider will be free to choose one of the two exemptions allowed for morphological reasons: either moving the tip of the saddle forwards to the vertical plane passing through the centre of the bottom bracket, or positioning the handlebar extension forwards up to a maximum of 80 cm in front of the centre of the bottom bracket, but not both.
Furthermore, morphological tests will no longer be necessary for exemptions for moving the tip of the saddle forwards (knee test) or moving the handlebar extension forwards (checking the angle of the arms).
With a view to implementing these changes as well as guaranteeing fairness between riders in terms of the position adopted during races, there will be two clarifications of the technical regulations:
• All types of gear lever (manual, automatic and electronic) shall be measured from their ends (manual gear levers positioned in line with handlebar extensions),
• The height difference between the point of support for the elbows and the highest and lowest points of the handlebar extension (including the gear levers) shall be less than 10 cm in order to guarantee that the forearms are horizontal. This means that, from 2014, only the bicycle will be checked and the rider will no longer be asked to attend together with his or her bicycle. This will mean that riders are not disturbed in their preparations just before the start of the race.
These changes will afford riders more freedom while avoiding any risk of disqualification during the race due to the adoption of a non-regulatory position that is sometimes involuntary because of the effort involved. 2/3 Articles 1.3.013 and 1.3.023 of the UCI technical regulations will be amended on 1 January 2014 as indicated in red below: 1.3.013 The peak of the saddle shall be a minimum of 5 cm to the rear of a vertical plane passing through the bottom bracket spindle. This restriction shall not be applied to the bicycle ridden by a rider in a sprint event on track (flying 200 m, flying lap, sprint, team sprint, keirin, 500 metres and 1 kilometre); however, in no circumstances shall the peak of the saddle extend in front of a vertical line passing through the bottom bracket spindle.
The peak of the saddle can be move forward until the vertical line passing through the bottom bracket spindle where that is necessary for morphological reasons. By morphological reasons should be understood everything to do with the size and limb length of the rider. Any rider who, for these reasons, considers that he needs to use a bicycle of lesser dimensions than those given shall inform the commissaires' panel to that effect at the time of the bike check when presenting his licence. In that case, the panel may conduct the following test. Using a plumb-line, they shall check to see whether, when pedalling, the point of the rider's knee when at its foremost position shall not pass beyond a vertical line passing through the pedal spindle .
Only one exemption for morphological reasons may be requested; either the peak of the saddle can be moved forward or the handlebar extensions can be moved forward, in accordance with Article 1.3.023. 1.3.023 For road time trials and individual and team pursuit on the track, a fixed extension may be added to the steering system; in this instance, the height difference between the elbow support points and the highest and lowest points of the handlebar extension (including gear levers) must be less than 10 cm only a position where the forearms are in the horizontal plane is permitted. It is also possible to add a handlebar extension for the 500 m and kilometre time trials on the track, but in this case, the position of the tip of the saddle must be at least 5 cm behind the vertical plane passing through the bottom bracket axle. The distance between the vertical line passing through the bottom bracket axle and the extremity of the handlebar may not exceed 75 cm, with the other limits set in article 1.3.022 (B,C,D) remaining unchanged. Elbow or forearm rests are permitted.
For road time trial competitions, controls or levers fixed to the handlebar extension may not extend beyond the 75 cm limit as long as they do not constitute a change of use, particularly that of providing an alternative hand position beyond the 75 cm mark. For the track and road competitions covered by the first paragraph, the distance of 75 cm may be increased to 80 cm to the extent that this is required for morphological reasons; «morphological reasons » should be taken as meaning anything regarding the size or length of the rider's body parts. A rider who, for this reason, considers that he needs to make use of a distance between 75 and 80 cm must inform the commissaires' panel at the time of the bike check at the moment that he presents his licence.
In such cases the commissaires' panel may carry out the following test: ensuring that the angle between the forearm and upper arm does not exceed 120° when the rider is in a racing position. Only one exemption for morphological reasons may be requested; either the handlebar extension can be moved forward or the peak of the saddle can be moved forward, in accordance with Article 1.3.013.