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UCI to ban forearms time-trial position on road bikes

First the super tuck, and now the popular breakaway position get the ax from the UCI, starting April 1.

In a memorandum issued on February 8, the UCI indicated it will ban riders from racing with their forearms on their handlebars, in a time-trial like position, when on a road bike.

Last week, the UCI indicated it would begin to enforce the rule prohibiting riders from the ‘super tuck’ descending position, where a rider sits on the top tube and curls into a tight position on a downhill. The news was greeted with mixed feelings, and VeloNews debated the merits of the rule and the UCI’s renewed interest in enforcing it.

Both rules will start being enforced — and this is apparently not a joke — on April 1.

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Well, the UCI is taking things even further, banning the popular practice of placing one’s forearms on the handlebars to gain an aerodynamic advantage. This riding posture is often seen in breakaways, as riders look to speed away from chasers by assuming a posture similar to one used on a time trial bicycle.

The list of riders to use this position is simply too long to list. So, we’ve compiled a quick gallery below of riders using this position — a position that is now, apparently, forbidden.

Alberto Bettiol using the position this past week in France. Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images
Dries De Bondt (Team Alpecin-Fenix) driving a breakaway. Starting April 1, this will be breaking the law. Photo Luc Claessen/Getty Images
Ludovic Robeet, don’t get too comfortable in this position. Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Tim Wellens loves breakaways. Sorry, Tim; soon you won’t be able to ride like this anymore — UCI’s orders. Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images

The text addressing both the super tuck and the popular forearms position is just a single sentence long, saying the riders must observe the standard position as defined by article 1.3.008: “Sitting on the bicycle’s top tube is prohibited. Furthermore, using the forearms as a point of support on the handlebar is prohibited except in time trials.”

Penalties for violating the position rules may be up to 1,000CHF and 25 UCI ranking points at WorldTour events, the world championships, and the Olympics.

While the rule against sitting on the top tube has been on the books for some time, it was not until recently that cycling’s international governing body indicated it would begin to enforce the rule as of April 1, 2021. An “educational” grace period has been allowed through the next several weeks, to allow riders and UCI officials to adjust to the updated enforcement policies.

Committing to make improvements in rider safety, the UCI has also clarified rules for feed and waste zones, indicating where they can be located, where soigneurs may position themselves, the length of feed zones, as well as waste-discard zones immediately before and after feed zones. The rules are to reduce litter which can result in crashes, as well as address environmental concerns.

“Riders may not, without due care, jettison food, bonk-bags, feeding bottles, clothes, etc. outside of the litter zones provided by the organizer in any place whatsoever. If waste zones are established by the organizer, the rider must safely and exclusively deposit their waste on the sides of the road in this the litter zones provided by the organizer,” reads the text of the updated rule.

The UCI also clarified “Riders may not jettison anything on the roadway itself but shall draw to the side of the road and safely deposit the object there. Riders may also dispose of bottles and clothing to team cars or organization vehicles or with the team staff in charge of riders’ feeding.”

Additional litter zones will be located every 30-40 kilometers throughout the race.