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Can you guess why the UCI keeps a list of pro cyclists taller than 6’2”?

The organization knows all the lanky riders in the peloton

Photo by: Sirotti.it

Is there an ideal height for male cyclists? The height difference between someone like Chris Froome (6’1”) and Egan Bernal (5’7”) would suggest there’s room for quite a range of heights in the peloton.

A 2017 study by Pro Cycling Stats found that the average height of a WorldTour cyclist was 5’9”. The study also found that climbers were, on average, more than half an inch shorter than sprinters and that the average height of time trial specialists was half an inch more than other WorldTour cyclist.

Pro Cycling Stats didn’t mention the mean or median height, numbers that may have better taken into account outliers in the peloton. While the UCI doesn’t keep track of the shortest riders, the organization does maintain a list of the tallest cyclists competing at a professional level—and there are a surprisingly large number of very tall cyclists (though some, such as Ryder Hesjedal, are now retired).

Two riders top the list at almost 2m tall (6’5”): 22-year-old American cyclist Andrew Levitt and Belgian rider Stijn Vandenbergh, who races for AG2R La Mondiale. Other notable (non-retired) tall club members include Deceuninck – Quick Step’s Kasper Asgreen (6’3”) and Tim Declercq (6’2”) , Sunweb’s Tiesj Benoot (6’2”) and Cees Bol (6’3”) and Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert (6’2”). Canadian cyclists Matteo Dal-Cin (6’3”), Antoine Duchesne (6’2”) and Brendan Armstrong (6’3”) also find themselves on the Tall Cyclist List.

Why does the UCI keep this very specific document? The answer has to do with time trial bikes.

Time trial exceptions

When the UCI outlawed the ‘Superman’ position, it also tightened up regulations. The organization created a rule that the horizontal distance between the centre of the bottom bracket and the tips of the extension bars on time trial bikes must be no more than 75cm.

One standard sizing for all riders is obviously not ideal, so the UCI allows cyclists who measure more than 1.90m to have a little extra length on their bars, a maximum of 85cm.

As time trial specialists tend to be taller, it’s particularly important that the UCI takes into account the height of riders. Even though they created the exception, not all tall riders were satisfied. Retired 2018 Irish champion Conor Dunne is 6’8” and unsuccessfully appealed early in his career for more leeway in his bar length. The cyclist said that even with 85cm bars, his knees still hit his handlebars in an aero position.