Barriers for sprint finishes will become standardised, the UCI has decided ©Getty Images

International Cycling Union (UCI) has approved a plan to improve rider safety, with roadside barriers, race vehicles and the conduct of riders among the areas targeted by the governing body.

The UCI Management Committee signed off on the measures, following approval by the Professional Cycling Council at its meeting on February 2 and 3.

Discussion over rider safety has been heightened due to a series of high-profile incidents during the 2020 season.

The most notable involved Danish rider Fabio Jakobsen, who spent a week in intensive care after being forced into a barrier in a bunch sprint at the Tour de Pologne.

Barriers are among the areas where changes are set to be made.

The UCI said it was decided to establish several measures at events, such as altering the weighting and positioning of barriers on the finish line to avoid any space between them, which will come into force without delay.

A set of standards for barriers used in the final part of events, in particular for bunch sprints, are set to be established during 2021.

This process will be led by experts in consultation with stakeholders and will consider the characteristics of modern professional cycling.

These standards concerning barriers will be implemented by event organisers from the beginning of the 2022 season, with the UCI vowing to adjust the timeline for the implementation according to the progress of consultation.

The UCI also plans "enhancement and modernisation of the specifications concerning obstacle protection elements used along the course", including harmonising signals.

Fabio Jakobsen's crash at the Tour of Poland has led to an increased focus on rider safety ©Getty Images
Fabio Jakobsen's crash at the Tour of Poland has led to an increased focus on rider safety ©Getty Images

The governing body said communication with riders when important decisions are taken will be strengthened, with more detailed protocols in dealing with the neutralisation of events will be created.

All event organisers will be obliged to appoint and train and event safety manager, with the UCI then developing a certification system based on experience and training.

Race incidents involving vehicles have been common in recent years, leading to the UCI vowing to deliver stricter directives for the race convoy of motorcycle riders, vehicle drivers and television helicopter pilots.

A logbook system which will enable the monitoring of drivers’ experience and eventually lead to the application of a licence points system for drivers in the race convoy will be progressively be introduced.

The UCI says in the coming weeks, a more comprehensive and structured briefing for all drivers before the start of each event will be introduced, led jointly by the President of the Commissaires’ Panel for the event and the organisers.

Concrete measures will be accompanied by the creation of the position of safety manager within the UCI Sports Department, dedicated to the supervision of safety at events on the UCI International Road Calendar.

This position will be occupied by former Swiss cyclist and event organiser Richard Chassot.

Following his appointment by the UCI, as a consultant for a period of one year, and to avoid any conflict of interests, Chassot has stepped down from his position of director general of the AIOCC - the association representing event organisers.

The UCI says it has collaborated with an external service provider specialising in data collection and analysis to develop a database of incidents and accidents that have occurred at major UCI WorldTour events in the last five years, allowing for more effective targeting of actions to be taken by the UCI for in-race safety.

A new tool has been promised to enable organisers to benefit from an evaluation of risks in the proposed route several weeks before the start of the event, which will reportedly help target actions to ensure the security of race routes.

The UCI has also sought to alter the behaviour of riders, including preventing riders from throwing bottles onto the road or within the peloton due to the risk posed to fellow riders.

The UCI will seek to clamp down on riders throwing bottles away after use ©Getty Images
The UCI will seek to clamp down on riders throwing bottles away after use ©Getty Images

Britain’s Geraint Thomas was ruled out of the Giro d’Italia in 2020, after sustaining a fractured pelvis after a stray bottle led to him crashing.

The UCI sys it will establish new provisions for the organisation of rider refreshments, with an obligation for rubbish collection zones every 30 to 40 kilometres to allow the possibility to remove waste and bottles safely.

The governing body will also seek to clamp down on riders taking up dangerous positions on the bike, especially sitting on the top tube.

The UCI says failure to comply with these provisions will lead to warnings from the Commissaires, as part of an initial education and awareness phase aimed at ensuring understanding of the new regulations and their consequences.

Sanctions, which could go as far as exclusion from competition, will be introduced from April 1.

The UCI also aims to introduce better supervision of the use of equipment by teams, such as disc brakes and bottle cages.

The governing body says the measures will be introduced in three stages, with some implemented rapidly.

Others will be adopted on April 1 to allow for a period of adjustment for riders, teams, organisers and commissaires, with the remainder implemented during 2021.

The relevant measures will apply initially to UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour events, then will be able to be applied progressively to all events on the UCI's international road calendar.