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Pro women on the super tuck and forearm ban: ‘It’s mostly guys who are complaining’

Most pros are OK with the ban but see more meaningful ways to make the sport safer - and more equitable.

The great super tuck debate of February 2021 is mostly ‘meh’ for the women’s peloton.

“It’s mostly guys who are complaining,” Team DSM’s Coryn Rivera told VeloNews. 

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While the soon-to-be enforcement on the banned super tuck and imaginary aero bar positions do get used — but perhaps not as much so as in men’s racing — in the women’s peloton, most riders don’t see their presence — or absence — as making a huge difference in the caliber of racing.

Rivera says that she’s only observed experienced and confident riders using the super tuck, and as such, doesn’t see enforcement of a ban as a real step toward greater safety on the road.

“Normally it’s like, people who aren’t confident just don’t do it,” she said. “I’ve never seen a crash or dangerous situation with one because you usually need confidence to do it anyway so you wouldn’t use it if you weren’t sure of yourself.” 

Rivera herself doesn’t often use either position; “that’s more for breakaway and solo artists. If I am doing it, I’m probably not in the best situation,” she said.

At Trek-Segafredo, however, WorldTour champion Lizzie Deignan is happy to see the positions in question fall to the wayside. As one who could be considered a fairly confident rider, her answer is emphatic when I ask if she uses the super tuck.

“NEVER,” she said.

“I’m totally safety-first. I don’t have a problem with the rule.”

Deignan agrees that the position is only useful for someone trying to get away. And, if a rider attempts a super tuck while in a large group, she’s not only not going to get away but potentially leave a lot of damage in her wake.

“If we’re descending really fast, like a couple times in the Giro, when we’re going over 80kph, all in a big peloton, no one’s going to get away at that speed,” Deignan said. “If someone is doing that, it’s not just yourself you’re going to injure. Now, if someone’s off the front and they’re going to win a world title, they may get pissed at the rule but I’d still be up there on my tops.”

Deignan’s teammate Tayler Wiles also adheres to the ‘safety-first’ ethos and says that “our sport is dangerous enough.” She’s in favor of the positional bans but also believes that the UCI could implement more meaningful safety regulations.

Wiles says that women’s racing could use more race motos and staff on course to make sure that road closures are enforced and obstacles marked. She also says that the use of race radios for all riders should be a given, at every event.

“We should always have radios and there should always be information about upcoming dangers,” she said “We race in so many places in Belgium and the Netherlands where there’s so much road furniture and tight corners that come out of nowhere. The more info we have as riders that we’re getting from the car, the better. I don’t think it takes away from tactics or racing, added safety is good.”

Both Wiles and Rivera mentioned a desire for greater enforcement around littering; fortunately, the new UCI guidelines do address this by requiring race organizers to provide designated litter zones.

Regarding penalties for violating the new safety regulations, women will pay less than their male counterparts in the WorldTour when breaking a rule. The fine for women littering outside of designated zones is from CHF100 – CHF500  and 10 points from UCI rankings (vs. CHF200 – CHF1000 and 15 points for men), and for violating the positional bans is CHF500 plus 15 points from UCI rankings (vs. CHF1000 and 25 points for men).

Deignan says she wasn’t aware of the discrepancy in penalties — and that she finds them a bit “tokenistic.”

“I don’t know what to make of that one, it’s a bit odd,” she said. “Rather than half the fine, I’d rather see full prize money.”

Rivera offers a different, yet related, solution.

“Maybe it could be even less than half since our pay isn’t that equal.”