UCI clarifies time trial position rules

Cycle sport’s world governing body also simplifies conformity checks

by Mat Brett   December 23, 2013  

Wiggins on his UK Sport designed time trial bike

The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale, cycle sport’s world governing body) has emailed bike suppliers about clarifications to time trial bike setup and changes to the implementation of rules governing rider position. The amendments are designed to simplify commissaires’ checks before the start of races and ensure uniformity from one race to the next.

The email was sent by Matthieu Mottet, the UCI’s Technological Co-ordinator. Interestingly, it begins with the revelation that the vast majority of riders ask for an exception from certain rules for morphological reasons (the size or the limb length of the rider), and hence that the rules are not reflecting the current situation out on the road.

This doesn’t appear to be an indication of a long-term softening of the rules resulting from the 1996 Lugano Charter, which many people believe to be stifling technological innovation in cycling. Rather, it seems to be a move towards reducing the level of interpretation possible in the enforcement of the rules, creating greater consistency.

“There will no longer be any need for interpretation and the regulations will be applied uniformly throughout the season,” says Matthieu Mottet.

So, what are the changes? In short:

• For morphological reasons a rider is allowed either to move the tip of the saddle forwards to the vertical plane of the bottom bracket, or to position handlebar extensions forwards up to a maximum of 80cm in front of the centre of the bottom bracket.

• Morphological tests will no longer be necessary for exemptions in either of these two cases.

• All gear levers will be measured from their ends – in the case of manual gear levers, that’s when the shifters are positioned in line with the handlebar extensions.

• The height difference between the arm rests and the highest and lowest points of the handlebar extensions must be less than 10cm. The idea is to ensure that the rider’s forearms are horizontal.

Here’s that mail in full:

Following a recent study on riders' positions on the road and track, the UCI has noted that the regulations that date back to 2000 no longer entirely correspond to the situation on the ground as an average of nearly 80% of riders automatically request an exemption for morphological reasons before the start of a race.

The introduction of reforms on riders' positions scheduled for 2014 will allow the checks conducted by commissaires at the start of races to be simplified and improved and their repeatability ensured. There will no longer be any need for interpretation and the regulations will be applied uniformly throughout the season.

In practice, a rider will be free to choose one of the two exemptions allowed for morphological reasons: either moving the tip of the saddle forwards to the vertical plane passing through the centre of the bottom bracket, or positioning the handlebar extension forwards up to a maximum of 80 cm in front of the centre of the bottom bracket, but not both. Furthermore, morphological tests will no longer be necessary for exemptions for moving the tip of the saddle forwards (knee test) or moving the handlebar extension forwards (checking the angle of the arms).

With a view to implementing these changes as well as guaranteeing fairness between riders in terms of the position adopted during races, there will be two clarifications of the technical regulations:

• All types of gear lever (manual, automatic and electronic) shall be measured from their ends (manual gear levers positioned in line with handlebar extensions),

• The height difference between the point of support for the elbows and the highest and lowest points of the handlebar extension (including the gear levers) shall be less than 10 cm in order to guarantee that the forearms are horizontal.

This means that, from 2014, only the bicycle will be checked and the rider will no longer be asked to attend together with his or her bicycle. This will mean that riders are not disturbed in their preparations just before the start of the race. These changes will afford riders more freedom while avoiding any risk of disqualification during the race due to the adoption of a non-regulatory position that is sometimes involuntary because of the effort involved.

Articles 1.3.013 and 1.3.023 of the UCI technical regulations will be amended on 1 January 2014 as indicated in bold below:

1.3.013 The peak of the saddle shall be a minimum of 5 cm to the rear of a vertical plane passing through the bottom bracket spindle. This restriction shall not be applied to the bicycle ridden by a rider in a sprint event on track (flying 200 m, flying lap, sprint, team sprint, keirin, 500 metres and 1 kilometre); however, in no circumstances shall the peak of the saddle extend in front of a vertical line passing through the bottom bracket spindle.

The peak of the saddle can be move forward until the vertical line passing through the bottom bracket spindle where that is necessary for morphological reasons. By morphological reasons should be understood everything to do with the size and limb length of the rider.

Any rider who, for these reasons, considers that he needs to use a bicycle of lesser dimensions than those given shall inform the commissaires' panel to that effect at the time of the bike check when presenting his licence. In that case, the panel may conduct the following test. Using a plumb-line, they shall check to see whether, when pedalling, the point of the rider's knee when at its foremost position shall not pass beyond a vertical line passing through the pedal spindle.

Only one exemption for morphological reasons may be requested; either the peak of the saddle can be moved forward or the handlebar extensions can be moved forward, in accordance with Article 1.3.023.

 

1.3.023 For road time trials and individual and team pursuit on the track, a fixed extension may be added to the steering system; in this instance, the height difference between the elbow support points and the highest and lowest points of the handlebar extension (including gear levers) must be less than 10 cm only a position where the forearms are in the horizontal plane is permitted. It is also possible to add a handlebar extension for the 500 m and kilometre time trials on the track, but in this case, the position of the tip of the saddle must be at least 5 cm behind the vertical plane passing through the bottom bracket axle.

The distance between the vertical line passing through the bottom bracket axle and the extremity of the handlebar may not exceed 75 cm, with the other limits set in article 1.3.022 (B,C,D) remaining unchanged. Elbow or forearm rests are permitted.

For road time trial competitions, controls or levers fixed to the handlebar extension may not extend beyond the 75 cm limit as long as they do not constitute a change of use, particularly that of providing an alternative hand position beyond the 75 cm mark.

For the track and road competitions covered by the first paragraph, the distance of 75 cm may be increased to 80 cm to the extent that this is required for morphological reasons; «morphological reasons » should be taken as meaning anything regarding the size or length of the rider's body parts. A rider who, for this reason, considers that he needs to make use of a distance between 75 and 80 cm must inform the commissaires' panel at the time of the bike check at the moment that he presents his licence. In such cases the commissaires' panel may carry out the following test: ensuring that the angle between the forearm and upper arm does not exceed 120° when the rider is in a racing position.

Only one exemption for morphological reasons may be requested; either the handlebar extension can be moved forward or the peak of the saddle can be moved forward, in accordance with Article 1.3.013.

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Fascinating.

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Suffering from Low Cadence.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1349 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 16:29

27 Likes

Tri-bars should never have been allowed when so many less radical changes have been banned. If you disallow arm-rests and only let riders have contact with their hands then you won't have all the nonsense TT bikes cause. (and make the sport a lot cheaper too)

posted by JohnnyRemo [88 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 16:39

39 Likes

JohnnyRemo wrote:
Tri-bars should never have been allowed when so many less radical changes have been banned. If you disallow arm-rests and only let riders have contact with their hands then you won't have all the nonsense TT bikes cause. (and make the sport a lot cheaper too)

It's a different sport altogether (in essence) - I don't understand how this would make sense? Besides, remove the tri rests and you simply serve to open another avenue of experimentation where riders would attempt to position their hands outside of a road bicycles drop-bar confines.

Does this suggest a tired tour rider should/could be presented with disqual after resting on their arms?

The whole beauty of timetrialling is to perfect the aerodynamic properties of a cyclists form, the UCI simply have to serve a regulation insofar as UCI tournaments are concerned (of course trickling down to BC). There always has to be an element of regulation at this level. As far as non-pro's are concerned it's not that expensive, riders have a choice, be aero or don't be aero. Simples.

It would only make the sport cheaper because removing the tri bar would deem the sport non-existent. Remove the tri bars are you have a bicycle, to cycle on.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 17:28

32 Likes

Does the bike play any purpose in triathlon save to let the slow swimmers catch up with the pack? It's only ever the running sorts it all out.

posted by sidesaddle [70 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 19:21

29 Likes

mooleur wrote:
JohnnyRemo wrote:
Tri-bars should never have been allowed when so many less radical changes have been banned. If you disallow arm-rests and only let riders have contact with their hands then you won't have all the nonsense TT bikes cause. (and make the sport a lot cheaper too)

mooleur wrote:
It's a different sport altogether (in essence) - I don't understand how this would make sense? Besides, remove the tri rests and you simply serve to open another avenue of experimentation where riders would attempt to position their hands outside of a road bicycles drop-bar confines.

The "experimentation" would result in a road bike. Check out what happened when Obree tried to build a bike for the "amateur" hour record. He couldn't hold any other than the classic road bike position for more than a few laps

mooleur wrote:
Does this suggest a tired tour rider should/could be presented with disqual after resting on their arms?

Yep - just like "Spinacis" were banned and comms are told to stop amateur riders hanging their arms over the bars

mooleur wrote:
The whole beauty of timetrialling is to perfect the aerodynamic properties of a cyclists form, the UCI simply have to serve a regulation insofar as UCI tournaments are concerned (of course trickling down to BC). There always has to be an element of regulation at this level. As far as non-pro's are concerned it's not that expensive, riders have a choice, be aero or don't be aero. Simples.

No different being aero on a bike without tri-bars than with tri-bars and the arm-rests riders need to be supported with to use them

mooleur wrote:
It would only make the sport cheaper because removing the tri bar would deem the sport non-existent. Remove the tri bars are you have a bicycle, to cycle on.
Yep - a road bike - same as before tri-bars...

posted by JohnnyRemo [88 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 22:28

25 Likes

Quote:

For road time trial competitions, controls or levers fixed to the handlebar extension may not extend beyond the 75 cm limit

This is more significant than it sounds. Previously, the shifter wasn't included in the bar extension measurement, now it will be. I think I read on inrng.com a while back that some riders, such as Wiggins, used to push the shifter out beyond the 75cm mark to get a more aero position, something they in theory they will now be banned from doing.

Quote:
The height difference between the arm rests and the highest and lowest points of the handlebar extensions must be less than 10cm. The idea is to ensure that the rider’s forearms are horizontal.

I think this is an incorrect interpretation - the old rules demanded a horizontal arm position (how strictly this was enforced is another matter). The new rules are not to ensure horizontal forearms, instead they now allow for non-horizontal positions, albeit within that 10cm limit. This new rule would legally allow some praying mantis style positions, with the elbows below the hands.

posted by giobox [311 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 23:53

34 Likes

mooleur wrote:

The whole beauty of timetrialling is to perfect the aerodynamic properties of a cyclists form, the UCI simply have to serve a regulation insofar as UCI tournaments are concerned (of course trickling down to BC). There always has to be an element of regulation at this level. As far as non-pro's are concerned it's not that expensive, riders have a choice, be aero or don't be aero. Simples.

It would only make the sport cheaper because removing the tri bar would deem the sport non-existent. Remove the tri bars are you have a bicycle, to cycle on.

Actually the modern time trialing position is a result of UCI's luddite view towards cycling technology - the Lugano Charter. Without the forced rules time trialing position could have evolved naturally into something that is both more aerodynamic, safer and more comfortable for the rider. Instead we have what we have now.

posted by mythbuster [31 posts]
24th December 2013 - 1:40

24 Likes

mythbuster wrote:

Actually the modern time trialing position is a result of UCI's luddite view towards cycling technology - the Lugano Charter. Without the forced rules time trialing position could have evolved naturally into something that is both more aerodynamic, safer and more comfortable for the rider. Instead we have what we have now.

That's fair enough, and I don't disagree that the UCI have imposed a backwards thinking on timetrialling but my point is removing the ability to have any sort of TT position whatsoever would be ridiculous, there's at least some scope for innovation at present. Forcing the TT rider to ride as he would on a road bike seems a spot pointless if that's not what they want to do.

It's a shame other organisations such as the CTT have to take the UCI regs as gospel for all competition because it would be nice to see that innovation at club-level be revived.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
24th December 2013 - 9:54

22 Likes

These rule changes were announced a fair while back, when Pat McQuaid was still running the show, so while it does look like there may be a new approach to cleaning up rules and making them more targeted on the essentials, this is just a step change to take away to problems of regulating the rider;s position, and changing it to regulating the bike setup - ie things that you can easily measure.

Re: TTing on road bikes, have a look at the geometry that Chris Boardman ended up on for his athletes hour record after a lot of specific aero testing, and see how different that is from his normal road bike

posted by CarlosFerreiro [57 posts]
24th December 2013 - 11:22

21 Likes

If - "the whole beauty of timetrialling is to perfect the aerodynamic properties of a cyclists form" - then why not got the whole hog and allow recumbents?

posted by JohnnyRemo [88 posts]
24th December 2013 - 13:42

23 Likes

JohnnyRemo wrote:
If - "the whole beauty of timetrialling is to perfect the aerodynamic properties of a cyclists form" - then why not got the whole hog and allow recumbents?

I'd have no problem with that. I've plenty of friends who are well into both the human powered vehicle and recumbent scene all of which should be allowed an opportunity to compete in timetrials in some shape or form. I don't see why club level timetrialling should constrain such innovation.

At a pro-cycling level, though, regulation has to exist. You couldn't throw a recumbent into a world tour prologue.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
24th December 2013 - 16:24

26 Likes