The latest meeting of the International Cycling Union (UCI) Management Committee held between June 10 and 12 introduced several changes to road races in order to improve cyclist safety, measures that reflect the recommendations of the new SafeR body.

This body brings together representatives from across the cycling field and was set up by none other than Richard Plugge and Jim Ratcliffe, owners of Visma-Lease a Bike and INEOS Grenadiers respectively.

A few months ago, a few days after a serious crash that has conditioned the preparation of some of the most important cyclists in the peloton, Richard Plugge, general manager of Visma-Lease a Bike announced the creation of SafeR, an independent body similar to the existing one in Formula 1, whose mission would be to promote measures to improve cyclist safety.

From the first set of recommendations provided by SafeR, the UCI has just approved the incorporation of several measures that will be applied on a trial basis from the next races until the end of the season.

Among the most striking measures is the implementation of a system of yellow cards that will begin to be used from August 1. This system will affect not only the cyclists but also all the members of the caravan: link bikes, media, team cars, auxiliaries… and it is intended to make all these people be more responsible and avoid behaviors that may endanger the safety of the race.

The stewards themselves will be responsible for issuing yellow cards to those who create dangerous situations. Although we will not see them physically as in sports such as soccer, but will be communicated to the offenders at the time, they will appear in the final minutes of the race.

In any case, this does not imply that the commissaires can continue to apply disqualification sanctions in the cases already included in the regulations, such as, for example, making a prolonged handover or holding on to it.

The UCI has established a series of penalties for accumulation of yellow cards as follows:

– Two yellow cards in a race leads to disqualification from the race and suspension for 7 days.

– Three yellow cards within 30 days will result in a 14-day suspension.

– Six yellow cards within 1 year will result in a 30-day suspension.

In addition to the yellow card system, another measure that will be tested in some races still to be defined concerns the use of the so-called earpieces. On the one hand, SafeR considers these devices to be a source of distraction for the cyclist and, on the other hand, the transmitter usually carried in a specific pocket on the back is often dangerous in case of a fall.

Among the measures proposed by SafeR to restrict their use are ideas such as having only two riders per team wearing an earpiece and having only them communicate with their manager and transmit orders to the rest of the team.

Also on a trial basis, the UCI is going to allow race organizers to modify the protection zone in stages with a foreseeable sprint finish. Currently this protection zone is established in the last three kilometers. With the new rule, it may be extended to five kilometers, always in a justified manner and which must be communicated before the start of the race.

The aim of this measure is to respond to an urban infrastructure that is increasingly hostile to the high speeds at which races are run and which, with the growth of cities, increasingly covers a larger radius with respect to the areas where the finishes are located.

In addition, also related to the sprint finishes, the calculation of times is modified so that the same time will be assigned as long as there is no difference between riders that does not exceed three seconds instead of 1 second, which is what applied until now.

This will only apply to riders in the main peloton of the race and is intended, on the one hand, to simplify the calculation of times in these stages and, on the other hand, to reduce the pressure for riders who do not enter the sprint dispute avoiding that they have to take unnecessary risks to avoid losing time.

These measures are accompanied by the creation of the figure of SafeR Safety Analyst who will be the people in charge of reviewing the measures adopted and in the races to detect problematic areas of the route establishing recommendations to avoid risks.

A good example of this could be the modification of the arrival at the Arenberg forest section that was introduced in the days prior to the last edition of Paris-Roubaix.

Apart from this, these Safety Analysts will also review the practices and policies of the teams in this matter, both in competition and in training. Will this mean the end of the selfies on the bike that cyclists constantly post on their social networks? Let’s hope so.