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The weirdest UCI track rule you’ve probably never heard of

Former world champ Carson Mattern got dinged by it at the track nationals

2024 Canadian Track Championships Photo by: Rob Jones/Canadian Cyclist

Updated: Well after Uncle Matt posted the this story, he got some fan mail. Turns out that Carson Mattern did disobey some instructions—7.1 and 7.4—but for some odd reason, the 3.9 was auto-generated. So I guess the official communiqué given after the race wasn’t so official after all. Mattern didn’t commit the sunglass sin, but it’s still something that you can get dinged for.

According to Cycling Canada, “There was only a warning issued (and not a fine) for a racing incident during this event. The 7.1 was given for a racing incident during the event. 3.9 and 7.4 can be disregarded as a software issue.”

I guess I should say Canadian Cycling Magazine regrets the error, or something—but I was just going by the official communiqué after the race. Therefore:

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After Carson Mattern finished second in the pursuit, he not only secured a silver medal but also received an unexpected parting gift: a good ole UCI fine.

If you check the results page, you’ll notice a little note specifically for him at the bottom: “Warning: failure to obey commissaire’s instructions [3.9, 7.1-7.4].” While 7.1 and 7.4 are pretty straightforward, 3.9 is a bit of a doozy.

And it involves sunglasses.

When an individual pursuit rider is next in line, they sit in a special chair just beside the starting gates. Their coach is usually there to help them load their bike, and the rider walks around, getting set. However, riders must wait without wearing their visor or sunglasses. Usually, competitors either tilt their helmet up or simply detach the visor. Most aero helmets now have visors that attach with magnets, making it a breeze.

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If you’re wondering why the UCI doesn’t want you covering your peepers at the start, don’t worry—this rule actually makes sense for once. It’s for TV coverage. Since everyone is wearing giant helmets with visors and hiding their faces, they tend to look like robots. But showing their eyes before the start personalizes it. In the old days when cyclists didn’t wear helmets or sunglasses in pro races, you could see their faces more—they were more human, not just one of many clones, for example.

After the race, Mattern said it wasn’t a bad thing to be told he broke some rules. “It’s good to have these reminders at the nationals,” he said. “Then there aren’t issues at international competitions.”

So if you ever find yourself in a pursuit, make sure to unsnap that visor and stick it back as you make your way to the gate, or you may find yourself out a few Swiss Francs!