The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) published an update for 2023 road events pertaining to COVID-19 health protocol and new “considerably lighter” rules took effect today for all classes of road events.
One of the major changes is that teams and personnel will no longer be required to provide a health pass, vaccination certificate or negative COVID-19 test before competitions. The use of face coverings for riders and team members is still requested for start areas, but an event organiser could also apply the measure to other personnel and areas depending on the “pandemic situation”.
“As part of the updated protocol, and in view of the clearly favourable evolution of the international health situation, the requirements imposed on the teams in terms of health passes, vaccinations and/or Covid tests have been lifted,” read a statement from the UCI on the updated protocols for events and teams.
“Organisers will be required to communicate the degree of health risk in the area where their event will take place (green, orange or red zone) before the event. Depending on the category, measures – recommended, desirable or compulsory – may be taken. Additional measures could be taken for the Grand Tours, depending on the epidemiological situation at the time.”
The rules apply to all UCI road races of the UCI WorldTour, UCI Women’s WorldTour, UCI ProSeries, Class 1 and Class 2, Continental Road Championships, UCI Road World Championships and UCI Nations Cup, as well as the Elite and U23 categories, Women and Men, and the Junior categories for the Continental and UCI Road World Championships.
Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) was the latest rider to test positive for COVID-19 before a race, which occurred in pre-Tour Down Under team testing, but he was able to re-test and start the event days later at the opening prologue. Australian COVID-19 rules do not currently include an obligatory isolation period.
While a 14-person steering committee, led by UCI Medical Director Professor Xavier Bigard, found that cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus had significantly decreased around the globe in most countries, the original virus, SARS-CoV-2, was still circulating in variant forms. Joining Prof Bigard on the steering committee were Dr Matthias Baumann, president of the UCI Medical Commission, four WorldTour team physicians and representatives of riders and organisations.
On the event side, organisers were asked to secure feed zones by not allowing the general public to have access, to limit access in the finish areas and continue with face coverings and other safety measures with awards ceremonies.
Teams were asked to manage all protocols for riders suspected, or confirmed, to have a COVID-19 positive.
A protocol was first instituted in early 2020, with regular updates in the past two years, in response to the evolving global pandemic of this which has been mutating and continues to circulate with the risk of new variants. The Covid protocol for road racing was deemed to be a “living document” and will be updated when deemed necessary because of changes to the world health situation.
All organisers were asked to inform teams and the UCI of the local and regional conditions of the pandemic. Assessment of the pandemic severity would use a colour coded scale developed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), used for all types of mass sports events.
The 12-page protocol outline stated that fines could be handed out by the Disciplinary Commission, ranging from CHF 1,000 and CHF 10,000, for “any subject or entity failing to implement the MAN (mandatory) measures”.
The new rules come on the heels of the first UCI courses and exam held for Event Safety Managers, held this week at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland with 64 event safety managers in attendance. The course, which looks at safety for riders, officials and spectators, has been made compulsory this year for all event safety managers appointed to races on the UCI WorldTour, UCI Women’s WorldTour and UCI ProSeries calendars.
“It is important to create a common safety language between all cycling stakeholders,” said UCI Head of Road and Innovation Michael Rogers. “These people are signing off on all safety elements of races so it is absolutely essential that they have the latest up-to-date information and UCI Regulations at their fingertips.”