There are several new UCI rules for professional races that will be implemented at the Santos Women’s Tour and next week’s Santos Tour Down Under. Hopefully, some of the tougher punishments won’t have to be meted out, and one rule will be an old one clarified perhaps to the riders’ relief.

Team Size: First of all, although the 133 rider gang leaving Port Adelaide to kick off the Tour Down Under is the same sized peloton as last year’s, that is the maximum for non-Grand Tour stage races and one-day races in 2018. Grand Tours will have a maximum of 176 riders, as opposed to the 198 who started the 2017 Tour de France.

Leader’s jerseys: Even if TDU title-holder Richie Porte wanted to wear the leader’s orange jersey on the first stage, he won’t be allowed to.

2017 Tour Down Under champion Richie Porte can’t wear this jersey on Stage 1 of the 2018 edition.
Punishments: Riders getting a tow from a car or motorcycle will face larger fines and up to a one-month suspension. Those going through a level rail crossing can expect the same punishments as the towees. Riders who think that finishing outside the time limit in an enormous “laughing group” might prevent them from getting disqualified will be disappointed to lose all their points from all classifications.

Starting in 2018, inflatable arches and other structures–to be altogether banned in 2022– will have backup systems and other safeguards, hopefully ensuring that incidents like Adam Yates coming a cropper in the 2016 Tour de France will never happen again.

The Three Kilometre Rule: A rider who has a problem within three kilometres of the finish line and doesn’t want to lose time now must not only tell a commissaire soon after the incident, but also again after the finish. Changes to the rule also clarify these potential problems as “any event independent from the physical capacity of the rider (fall, mechanical problem, puncture) and his will of remaining with the riders in whose company he was riding at the moment of the incident.”

Podium ceremonies: Among the changes to podium ceremonies, stage races will now ensure a top-3 GC podium ceremony at the end of the race. Last season the Santos Women’s Tour top-3 was (in order) Amanda Spratt, Janneke Ensing and Kirstin Wild and the Tour Down Under top-3 consisted of Richie Porte, Esteban Chaves and Jay McCarthy.

A proper end of race podium. Photo credit: Sirotti
Solo winner support cars: No longer will solo winners have a team support car escort them over the finish line, honking in delight. The cars will have to veer off.

Special team jerseys: Just about to win the Tour Down Under and you want your whole team to wear a special, celebratory jersey with orange sections on the final day even though you regularly wear, say, red and black with a incongruent splash of blue? Before, a team had to make arrangements with the UCI for this kind of thing 21-days in advance, but now it has to plan 60-days before.

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