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UCI crackdown on non-essential clothing?

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The equipment sections of the UCI rule book are long and complex. Realistically, not every rule will be enforced at every event – there just isn’t time for every bike every rider to be scrutineered every time they take to the track. So every year the UCI decides not – as some observers seem to believe – to invent new regulations, but to crack down on an existing rule that everyone thought they’d forgotten about. Or that the competitors had forgotten about themselves. We’ve had 3:1 tube dimensions now we have… non-essential clothing.

In Copenhagen in 2010 – when all the clarifications about ‘marketed and marketable’ equipment were being ‘re-stated’ – there was also a debate about rule 1.3.022 and whether overshoes were illegal on the track and whether the UCI would choose to enforce the rule at any point.

Staff’s tattoo was legal, but were those patent leather
overshoes? A fashion crime, certainly, but did they
contravene rule 1.3.022?
12 02 10 ParaWCH 024
And is the chrome plating on Jody Cundy’s carbon
aero leg strictlynecessary? We think it is. It’s a
bling thing…

It never happened, but the debate reared its – if not ugly, slightly mis-shaopen – head at Apeldoorn the followwing year, while the comms were getting serious about the ‘arms parallel to the ground’ rule. Overshoes, people confidently predicted, were next.

It never happened… until yesterday, when it happened at the Para-Cycling World Championships. For a day. Before competitors were told they could wear overshoes for the remainder of the competition.

Christina Kelkel writes : The UCI decided to enforce rule 1.3.033 stipulating “It is forbidden to wear non-essential items of clothing or items designed to influence the performance of a rider such as reducing the air resistance or modifying the body of therider…”. This means that no rider will be allowed to wear overshoes for the remainder of the competition, a rule that has never been enforced this way before! Jody Cundy said “We were told about this last night and were immediately surprised. Rules are rules and they are supposed to make it fair for everyone, but I don’t quite understand why this is happening right now. There is a big lack of consistency in terms of what is allowed when, but we’ll just have to go with it for now”

Following a discussion with the UCI Management Committee, the UCI overruled their decision to enforce rule 1.3.022 (stating that no rider is allowed to wear overshoes during competition) after Day 2’s racing. This means that all riders will now be allowed to wear overshoes for the reminder of the competition.

It isn’t the first time ‘non-essential’ items of clothing have been questioned this year – with clip-on aero helmet ccovers being banned on the start line at the Tour Down Under.

Leaving aside the fact that the loophole that allows you to wear them for road racing (keeping your feet warm) surely applies at every outdoor track meeting – in the UK, at least – what’s the assembled wisdom on whether they are/should be/will be illegal indoors?

And will we see a crackdown in London next week? Apparently not. The latest from the UCI is that overshoes ‘will be tolerated until October 2012’. Phew. That’s a relief. We were worried that without some sort of grace period riders wouldn’t be able to just not wear them. Think of the cost involved… the R&D investment. The inventory…

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