The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has imposed a series of measures on the organisers of the BinckBank Tour in Belgium and The Netherlands, due to safety failings noted during the 2019 edition.
UCI noted that the event, which took place between 10-18 August 2019, ‘provoked concerns among riders due to the dangerous nature of the course.’ The UCI and Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA), the association representing riders, have held several discussions on how to improve the safety conditions of the event.
Based on a report of the UCI Commissaires’ Panel, and having heard from the organisers, the UCI identified various situations constituting breaches of the UCI Regulations. These concerned event organisation and safety, and specifications for organisers. Due to these breaches, the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) made the following rulings:
- The presence in 2020 of a Technical Advisor, appointed by the UCI and at the cost of the organisers.
- The implementation of a plan of action devised by the UCI and approved by the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) in preparation for the 2020 BinckBank Tour.
- An evaluation of the standard of quality and safety of the organisation of the event, which will remain part of the UCI WorldTour Calendar in 2020. A decision regarding the status of the event will then be made based on that evaluation.
In addition, a fine was imposed on the organisers as part of a procedure of acceptance of consequences.
The UCI added that… ‘it would like to underline the spirit of collaboration demonstrated by the organisers during this procedure and their willingness to improve the safety conditions of their event in order to meet the regulatory safety requirements of an event on the UCI WorldTour, the leading series of men’s professional road cycling.’
Since 2017, UCI regulations have been modified to allow the UCI to preside over race safety – firstly through new rules concerning drivers, which have made it possible to sanction several drivers for dangerous behaviour during races. Since 2019, a section specific to breaches on the part of organisers has enabled the UCI to make disciplinary rulings on, most notably, safety failings. This was invoked for the first time in the present case, and ‘other procedures are ongoing’.
The possibility of imposing sanctions on organisers is part of a series of initiatives adopted by the UCI in recent years, in partnership with professional road cycling’s various stakeholders. In an ongoing effort to promote rider safety initiatives have included: the extreme weather protocol; the deployment of UCI Technical Advisors; guidelines for vehicle circulation in the race convoy; and a reduction in the number of riders in races.