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UCI to introduce new safety measures for race vehicles, barriers

After a season in which one rider died and others were injured in crashes with vehicles and obstacles, the UCI will make some changes.

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MILAN (VN) — Cycling’s governing body is ready to discuss and implement new safety measures for 2017 after a year that saw one rider die and others seriously injured due to road furniture and race vehicles.

The UCI announced Thursday it will meet with stakeholders in Milan on September 30, one day ahead of the final WorldTour race of the season, Il Lombardia.

“I am happy with the progress and investment we have made in 2016,” UCI President Brian Cookson said. “We know that there is more work to do and I am looking forward to working to ensure that we create the best possible conditions for riders.”

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Belgian Antoine Demoitié (Wanty – Groupe Gobert) crashed and was hit by a race jury motorbike in Gent-Wevelgem on March 27. He died overnight in the hospital. In the Tour of Belgium, two motorbikes collided next to the peloton and caused 19 cyclists to crash. Stig Broeckx (Lotto – Soudal), who returned to racing after fracturing his right collarbone and ribs in a motorbike incident in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, remains in a medically induced coma four months later. Steven Kruijswijk’s (LottoNL – Jumbo) crash into a metal bollard with 2.5 kilometers to race in the Vuelta a España’s fifth stage only highlighted the safety issues on the UCI’s plate.

In June, fed up with the issues facing cyclists, riders union CPA proposed a set of safety rules to the UCI to bring some changes. They included setting a speed limit for passing vehicles, scoring the drivers to identify risky ones, and identifying off-course routes to avoid cyclists completely. These and other proposals could be rolled out after the UCI and stakeholders meet in Milan.

“The working group will discuss various topics including the maximum number of riders in the race, safe course design, in particular within the final three kilometers of a race, a set of best practice guidelines for race finishes adapted to different course conditions, including reconnoiter and hazard identification, protection from obstacles and the finish,” the UCI said in its statement.

“These were elements brought to the discussions by the CPA during the last UCI Road Commission meeting.”

The working group will bring in the CPA, the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP), and the International Association of Cycling Race Organisers (AIOCC).

Already, the UCI will tighten its grip in the world championships next month in Doha, Qatar. Traffic islands will be removed or made safer for the last 1.5km of the Pearl circuit and barriers will allow the proper width for the passing peloton, which will number around 190 in the men’s race. Smaller and lighter motorbikes will be used in the race caravan, and no panniers will be allowed. Drivers of vehicles must have “significant previous experience.”

“On-time for the beginning of the 2017 season, the UCI will publish a Race Caravan guide,” the statement continued. “This comprehensive set of regulations and guidelines will govern all aspects of the safety and security of road races and will include rules defining the allocation and position of vehicles within a race.”