"The first yellow card in cycling may soon go to the UCI itself" - Patrick Lefevere reacts to impending rule changes proposed by UCI

Recently, in an attempt to improve rider safety, the UCI announced a string of rule changes that will be trialled in the coming months. The most stand out among them, the introduction of a yellow card system for offenders.

In truth, the decision has been met with a somewhat mixed reaction online. For Soudal - Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere however, the decision has potential if used correctly. "After VAR, cycling will soon also take over the yellow card from football. From 1 August, cycling federation UCI can issue them for 'behaviour that compromises the safety of the race'. Riders can get yellow, but so can team managers or any other driver who is part of the convoy," explains the Belgian in his column for Het Nieuwsblad.

"A person may wonder if there is a need for yet another stick. With fines, UCI points deductions, declassification and disqualification, there is already a wide basket of sanctions. I suppose the yellow card has its raison d'être as a penalty that is less drastic than disqualification, but still weighs more heavily for a rider than a fine usually paid by the team," Lefevere continues. "I hear from my riders that sprints are more dangerous than ever, but that the real 'abuses' happen more in the last five kilometres than in the last kilometre itself. Lead out riders who misbehave don't feel a declassification, so there the yellow card can also do its job. So in itself I do not dislike the idea, but everything depends on the implementation in practice. Who will be the referee who gets to hand out the yellow cards? Race juries almost without exception consist of people who have never sat on a racing bike. My advice is to definitely involve former riders when deciding what behaviour really compromises safety."

In an amongst all the talk of yellow cards though, there was one rule change slipped in by the UCI that Patrick Lefevere is not quite happy to see. "I don't necessarily want to suspect the UCI of malice, but I suspect they don't mind that all the media attention after their safety announcement went to the 'spectacular' news around the yellow cards. In remarkably understated terms: 'The UCI has decided to test the effects of restrictions around wearing and using earpieces in the race.' A little further on, the penny drops: 'This may lead to changed use of earpieces, for example by limiting them to two riders in the race,'" Lefevere says unhappily. "My unvarnished opinion on that: a completely ridiculous idea. Translate that to the 'normal' workplace: an employer is not allowed to speak to his staff while doing their job. The UCI then further packages it as a measure pro safety. That the radio on the back poses a physical danger in the event of a fall, up to there. But you are taking away a tool that allows you to inform riders of unexpected dangers on the road. What if a car comes onto the course and your two riders with earpieces are already off course for whatever reason? Absurd, of course. The first yellow card in cycling may soon go to the UCI itself."

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