Citing safety concerns in the peloton, the UCI announced early Sunday that, effective April 1, race caravan vehicles in UCI races will no longer be allowed to be equipped with disc brakes. This includes all team, press, medical and race committee cars, press, police and neutral support motorcycles, and publicity caravan vehicles.
“We have allowed a dangerous situation to go on too long, and we felt we had to act,” said UCI technical coordinator Julien Carron at a press conference at UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, this morning. “When the roads are wet, it is unacceptably risky for the riders if the team cars and press motorcycles are able to stop more suddenly than they can. This subject came up in our consideration (ultimately rejected) of the possible use of disc brakes on bicycles within the peloton. Since the riders must use rim brakes and in many cases are using carbon rims with very long stopping distances in wet conditions, the likelihood of a rider crashing into a stopped motor vehicle is simply too great.”
Carron went on to explain why the publicity caravan vehicles will also be precluded from having disc brakes.
“These vehicles are often little more than parade floats, and having this kind of equipment (disc brakes) on them is downright unsafe,” he said. “Very few of them even have rearview mirrors, so the idea of them being able to stop quickly when they can’t see what’s behind them is absurd. During the race, press cars and some race jury vehicles are passing the publicity caravan to get to the finish. If a big rolling hot dog stops suddenly in front of one of these cars, which will not be able to stop as quickly, there could be a collision resulting in loss of life, as the passengers in the hot dog will likely not have seatbelts, airbags, or even the protection of a bumper. And it’s not just in collisions; the giant Aquarel water bottle, for instance, has people standing on it throwing water at bystanders. A sudden stop could eject them from the vehicle.”
When asked about possible collisions with race spectators that might be caused by race vehicles being unable to stop in time, Carron said, “We take great efforts to make the public aware of the dangers of being in the roadway during our races. That is all we can do. We control only the things we can.”
There are some exceptions to the new rule. Carron pointed out that since the broom wagon is traveling behind all of the other vehicles, it is exempt from this rule. So are all team buses, since they don’t travel with the race. The rule goes into effect at midnight on April 1, a very short time frame for teams to locate cars with drum brakes ahead of the opening stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
“Our first concern is always rider safety,” said Carron. “That is the reason for this new regulation, and we could not in good conscience let another day pass with the riders in such danger.”