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Report: UCI approves drones for ‘general deployment’ from March 1

UCI says that drone used at Gavere Superprestige race was banned as organizers had not made an application for its use.

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Drones could be a regular fixture in cycling this year.

The devices have been increasingly used for filming at sporting events but are still largely underused in cycling. Cycling broadcaster GCN shared footage of Lucinda Brand at the Superprestige race in Gavere, but the further use of the drone that filmed it was banned by the UCI.

UCI CEO Peter Van Den Abeele told Belgian broadcaster Sporza that the use of drones for recording has been approved for general use from March 1. He added that drones were already allowed but its use in Gavere was only banned as a written request hadn’t been made by the organizer.

Also read: Fixing cycling’s TV problem(s)

“Drones can be used for live recording, if prior authorization is requested,” Van den Abeele told Sporza Apparently that written request did not happen in Gavere. The chairman of the jury then simply applied the regulations.

“Last week we had a director’s committee. There was a debate about filming during professional recordings. It was then decided to exploit its possibilities more. We will do that now, because from 1 March drones will be generally deployed.

“If we can portray cycling better, we will absolutely not put a stop to it.”

The use of drones in road racing has been seen as a way of improving safety by reducing the number of motorbikes and vehicles in a race. It is also seen as a possible way of reducing the carbon footprint of events.

However, the sustainable development boss at ASO, which organizes the Tour de France, Karine Bozzacchi doesn’t believe it would be a good swap for filming road races.

“It’s not the same [TV] image with a helicopter as with a drone,” she told VeloNews.

While ASO may be reluctant to incorporate the use of drones into its regular filming procedures, there definitely appears to be interest from fans for them to feature more.

CyclingTips reported that the change of rules in relation to drone use has come as part of an update to safety regulations. Strict protocols will still have to be followed in order for organizers to make use of them.

“The organizer may authorize the shooting of still photography and/or video by aircraft, including drones or other small aircraft, subject to obtaining authorization to operate the relevant equipment safely and securely from the envisaged location,” the updated version of article 1.2.035 reads, according to CyclingTips. “The organizer shall also ensure that any aircraft used does not affect the sporting conduct of the event and shall undertake or require that a detailed risk assessment be undertaken with regard to the riders, officials, and spectators attending the event.

“The organizer must ensure that the use of such equipment on the venue of the event is explicitly foreseen and communicated and fully covered by the relevant insurance carrier. Finally, organizers shall take appropriate measures to ensure that aircraft, including drones and other small aircraft, are not used by third persons without being duly authorized and do not impede on sporting operations or the exploitation of third-party rights (e.g. image or media rights).”