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UCI begins to enforce new safety rules in Oman

A television motorcycle is benched for a day at Tour of Oman in keeping with the UCI's new, stricter rules for race vehicles.

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The UCI handed down its first disciplinary action this week as part of new rules intended to make the peloton safer.

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One of the TV motorcycles covering stage 2 at the Tour of Oman was forced to sit out Thursday’s stage 3 after following too close to a racer.

That might not seem like much, but it marked the first time the UCI enforced new rules aimed at bringing more order and safety to the sometimes-chaotic peloton and caravan.

Earlier this month, the UCI unveiled new regulations for vehicles moving around the peloton with the objective of making it safer for cyclists as well as others.

“Safety is an issue that we are all concerned about,” Cookson told VeloNews last month. “We have updated the rules and regulations. We have new recommendations, but you cannot run a bike race without cars and motorcycles. It is a step forward, and the old idea that a lot of the drivers are ex-riders, but we do have to have licenses and respect for the rules. We want to make sure organizers are living up to the expectations of having a safe race course.”

That effort included input from Jean-Francois Pescheux, the retired Tour de France official, and other ex-riders and officials. The rules include the requirement of UCI-issued licenses for drivers, the banning of TV screens in cars, limiting the size and weight of motorcycles, and banning of the use of mobile phones. Rules also outline how close vehicles can pass riders in the peloton and how vehicles move within the race convoy.

Some say the rules don’t go far enough, but the UCI is hopeful new requirements will help avoid the mishaps and accidents that marred the peloton in recent years.

In 2016, Antoine Demoitié was killed in a crash during Gent-Wevelgem, and Belgian rider Stig Broeckx was involved in two collisions, including one at the Tour of Belgium last year that left him with serious brain damage.

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