Tour de France: 10 wacky rules of the biggest cycling race in the world

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The Tour de France often looks like a hectic scrum as the tight peloton flies through the French countryside.

Riders must constantly jockey to position themselves with the athletes around them while trying to get every advantage possible to win. How the tour works can be a bit difficult to understand in his right.

But in addition to the complicated race format, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), which regulates the race, has precise rules that all riders and team members must follow. Some restrictions, like not cutting the course, seem obvious. Others seem arbitrary, unnecessary, or downright bizarre.

Here are some of the weirdest rules Tour de France riders have to follow.

No littering in the Tour de France

Bikes are good for the environment, right? The races should therefore be too. According to UCI guidelines, athletes face hefty fines and point deductions if they dispose of gel packs, bottles, clothing or litter outside of designated areas defined by race officials. race.

Wout van Aert has already received such a fine during this year’s Tour de France. The UCI imposes a penalty for littering when an infraction meets the following criteria:

“*(A) Rider or team personnel disposing of litter or other items outside litter areas, or not returned to team or organization personnel, not collected by team personnel team, thrown at a spectator Disposing of litter or other objects in a careless or dangerous manner (for example, a bottle or other object lying or bouncing in the road, thrown directly or with excessive force at the spectator, causing a dangerous maneuver by another driver or vehicle, forcing the viewer to move on the road).”

The first offense is equivalent to a fine of approximately $500 and a deduction of 25 UCI ranking points. A second offense is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and a deduction of 50 UCI ranking points. A third offense is a little meaner. This results in a fine of $1,500, a deduction of 75 UCI ranking points and elimination or disqualification from the race.

Although pushing a rider is against the rules, professional riders and staff have perfected the “sticky bottle.” The rider pushes or pulls a little when handing over a drink bottle, providing a slight reprieve for the rider; (photo/Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

No push from spectators

The UCI prohibits pushing back cars, motorcycles or riders. It also prohibits runners and spectators from pushing other runners.

Fans often run alongside riders to offer support, especially on grueling climbs. But a push can have serious consequences for a rider, including a 20% penalty to the points classification for sprints (green jersey) or the King of Mountain (KOM) classification (polka dot jersey) and a 10-second penalty by offense.

No liquid spray from cars

Sometimes the scenes get hot. It is common to see cyclists douse themselves with their water bottles to lower their core temperature.

The UCI has no problem with riders giving themselves a cooling spray, but if someone is giving them one from a team car, it’s just a bridge too far.

The UCI fines drivers around $200 per violation for giving riders spray on the course.

No urinating or undressing in public

If you’re on a bike for several hours ingesting enough liquid to make Noah’s ark float, nature is going to call you. It is normal for riders in the Tour de France and other major tours to stop to relieve themselves during portions of the races where they still have time to catch up with the peloton.

By UCI rules, however, that’s a no-no. If race officials identify a runner urinating, they can issue a fine of around $200 to $500.

Runners often stop in large groups to relieve themselves simultaneously, so race officials cannot get them all.

No assistance from other teams

If you’re wondering if cyclists who ride grand tours have honor, sometimes that’s just not allowed. According to UCI rules, riders cannot receive assistance from other teams during races. This rule also comes with a significant punishment. Racers can be penalized from 2 to 10 minutes per infraction, with a fine of approximately $500.

Two minutes is a huge margin in a stage race like the Tour de France. That kind of deficit could be a nail in a rider’s coffin, even if he’s leading the pack.

Richie Porte learned that lesson the hard way in 2015 when the UCI hit him with a $200 fine and 2-minute penalty at the Giro d’Italia for accepting a wheel from a rider. another team in the latter part of stage 10 after he punctured a tire. He then retired from the race.

No personal clothing during podium obligations in the Tour de France

Most cyclists are ready to take off their form-fitting Lycra as soon as possible after the race is over. Tour de France cyclists are not so lucky.

The UCI requires riders to wear their full race gear during podium obligations, including each day’s signing and team presentation ceremony. This means that some runners will stay in their tight racing gear outside of the race for a long time, before and after.

Wearing the wrong clothes on the podium can result in a fine of around $500 for a rider or athletic director.

food in the tour de france
Action typical of the refueling zone of the Tour de France; (photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

No power outside designated areas

Runners must pump their bodies full of nutrition throughout races to stay competitive, but they are not allowed to feed (receive food) whenever they wish. Meals to riders must take place in designated areas.

The UCI penalizes riders who eat in the first 30 km and the last 20 km of stage races, including the Tour de France. Those caught feeding in the first stretch face a fine of around $200. Those caught on the home stretch receive the same fine and a 20-second penalty.

Any other violation is subject to a fine of approximately $1,000 per violation.

No forearms on the handlebars, no “Super-Tuck” aero position

Until 2021, riders charged downhill in a “super-tuck” position, descending toward the top tube of their bike to maximize aerodynamics. To make riding safer, the UCI banned the super tuck last year while prohibiting riders from resting their forearms on their handlebars to achieve a time trial-type position on a standard road bike. .

The new rules urged riders to stay on their bikes as the designers intended. Does it make running safer? Maybe?

Sock height in the Tour de France

Yeah. The UCI will pick up your socks. The UCI in 2018 noted that riders’ socks should not extend more than half of a rider’s shin.

Here’s how they put it: “Socks and overshoes used in competition must not exceed the height defined by half the distance between the middle of the lateral malleolus and the middle of the fibula head.”

The idea is to limit the runners aerodynamic advantage of their shoes. But socks are pretty low on the priority list if this year’s helmets indicate how riders try to find the perfect aerodynamic system.

No indecent behavior towards spectators

The UCI wants spectators and riders to get along. Thus, any form of “aggression, intimidation, insult, threat, inappropriate conduct (including pulling another rider’s jersey or saddle, blow with the helmet, knee, elbow, shoulder, foot or hand, etc.), or behavior is indecent”. , or that endangers others” is expressly prohibited.

Riders face fines of $200 to $2,000 for any violation against another rider or spectator.

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