UCI confirms time-gap rule, adds ‘TV jury’

For 2018, the UCI relaxed the time gap for splits in bunch sprints and added a “TV commissaire” who will monitor broadcasts for infractions.

Two new rules should help avoid controversy and ease tension in the peloton going into the 2018 racing season.

The UCI made permanent a rule that relaxes the time gap for splits in bunch sprints, as well as added a “TV commissaire” who will help monitor live broadcasts for rule infractions during major WorldTour events.

Officials hope the addition of an extra set of eyes that will monitor live broadcasts and other media feeds will help assure a fairer application of UCI rules. A fleet of race commissaires already referee races from motorcycles and cars, but the additional “TV commissaire” will help spot infractions that might have otherwise been overlooked. The commissaire will monitor broadcasts of the grand tours and the five monuments on the WorldTour as well as the UCI World Road Championships.

That decision should help avoid contradictions in race jury decisions that can sometimes counter what the viewing public can see on live broadcasts. Last year, the UCI had to back-pedal on a decision to eject world champion Peter Sagan during the 2017 Tour de France, stating in December that the crash with Mark Cavendish in stage four was an “unintentional race incident.” Last July, social media users immediately dissected video in the aftermath of the crash and surmised that Sagan’s elbow never struck Cavendish in what the UCI had initially ruled as dangerous sprinting.

The peloton will also likely welcome making permanent the time-gap rules that were tested last season. The rule will widen the time-cut from one second to three seconds before marking gaps in the peloton for bunch sprints. That should ease tension in the bunch for mass gallops, and in theory, allow GC riders to avoid the very front of the peloton during flatter stages without having to fear of losing valuable seconds.

Traditional rules put a one-second gap, which often meant that GC riders were trying to finish in the top-20 in bunch sprints, something that the sprinters and stage-hunters complained made the already dangerous fast gallops even more harrowing. Time gaps are measured from the first rider of each group, so sometimes GC riders could lose dozens of valuable seconds simply because one rider eased up in the sprint or pulled off after doing work for their respective captain. Allowing three seconds in the bunch sprints should ease the tension inside the peloton.

The announcements came Friday following the first meeting of the powerful UCI Management Committee, since the election of new UCI President David Lappartient. The meeting occurred in Valkenburg, the Netherlands, site of the 2018 world cyclocross championships. The management committee is where many of the rule-making and policy decisions are taken within the international cycling federation.

The committee also announced that new procedures to improve detection of banned mechanical assistance are ready to be implemented, and will be revealed during a press conference in March.

The UCI also announced that Katerina Nash will become a member of the management committee until 2021. It also confirmed Amina Lanaya as the UCI Director General, replacing Martin Gibbs, who stepped down from that role following Lappartient’s landslide victory over Brian Cookson in September. Lanaya previously was head of legal services, as well as deputy director general at the UCI.

Click here to view the full press release.