New UCI Rules to Address Hour Record Track Cars and Prototype Frames

The UCI has updated its technical regulations in a bid to reduce aerodynamic assistance from vehicles following a rider in individual time trials. While cyclists instinctively know the benefits of following another cyclist or vehicle, it is only relatively recently that cyclists and teams have become aware of the aerodynamic benefits presented by both cyclists and vehicles behind a cyclist.

The issue came to greater public awareness earlier this year when the car following new world hour record holder Filippo Ganna in the Tirreno Adriatico time trial was photographed with up to ten spare bikes on the roof. , closely following the then world time trial champion. . While the tactic of “pushing” a rider with a gust of wind from a car following it has played an important role in professional time trials, only recently have aerodynamicists discovered the pressure-reducing effect offered by the car behind it. follows to help the cyclist move. faster.

This marginal gain struck a nerve with many spectators and the UCI alike, and the world governing body has now moved to restrict this effect from January 1, 2023 in an update published on September 23. While the number of spare bikes allowed on the roof of Track Cars has not been restricted, the UCI amended the regulations to require that Track Cars must now remain a minimum of 15m behind the rider, an increase of 5 m over the 10 m previously in force.

The following vehicle must follow at least 10 15 meters behind the runner, he will never overtake or get close to him. In the event of a breakdown, technical assistance may only be provided with the driver and the vehicle stopped and the vehicle following him may not hinder anyone.

Chapter IV Individual Time Trial, 2.4.023: Vehicle Tracking

What a thing?

How much difference can the following car make? A study by Bert Blocken and the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) suggests that it is quite significant, with 3.7%, 1.4% and 0.2% for cars following 3, 5 and 10 m. In a 50km time trial, the study says these three scenarios could save the rider up to 62.4s, 24.1s and 3.9s compared to no car. Professor Blocken has been calling for a minimum following distance of 30m since the study was first published in 2015.

Regardless of the exact distance set out in the regulations, the rule change will only prove effective if the UCI actually enforces it. Only time will tell if that happens.

No more prototype registrations

In a further update released last week, the UCI also moved to ban the use of prototype frames in hour record attempts.

Currently, the regulation establishes that “any equipment in the development phase and not yet available for purchase (prototype) must be the subject of an authorization request to the UCI Equipment Unit before use”. The UCI has now restricted the use of prototypes with an amendment that will take effect from January 1. The updated regulations now state, “use of equipment under prototype authorization in track events and/or in the context of a particular performance (best performance, world record, hour record or other) will not be authorised.”

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