This is an opportunity to share some of the processes and decisions Comms encounter during events. Hopefully by doing this we can promote good, safe racing, and open transparency about races. You are welcome to ask questions.
Yours friendly blogger recently had the pleasure of officiating at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic (Bay Crits) in the good company of some highly experienced Commissaires. Although the Northern Combine doesn’t run many crits and officiating a national event with world level riders is much more technical than our racing, I thought it might be worth sharing given it’s crit season.
You have probably heard during a Comm briefing before a race about taking a lap out if you have a mechanical. So what constitutes a recognised mechanical and what should you do if this happens?
The Australian Tech Regs state (3.42.05) - When a recognised mishap occurs, the riders involved shall be allowed a free lap on which to resume their position in the race as at the moment of the mishap. No free laps shall be permitted in the last five kilometres of the event. Riders who have been allowed free laps shall not be penalised in the final classification. A rider who is ineligible for a free lap is responsible to make up any lost ground. The penalty for fraudulent use of the free lap rule may include disqualification or suspension.
3.42.06 A rider who is granted a free lap must return to the race in the position held at the time a mishap occurred.
This is partially helpful, but I didn’t find any definition of what a “recognised mishap” is, so I turned to the UCI Tech Regs (3.2.021) - The following shall be considered recognised mishaps: - a legitimate fall - a puncture - the breakage of an essential part of the bicycle. All others incidents are considered un-recognised mishaps. It seems as though the word “legitimate” came into play after some debatable solo falls on the track.
Safety first. If you have a crash, we want to make sure you are ok before getting up. Listen to the directions of those around you - you may not even be aware of what happened or apparent injuries. Any crashes need to be reported immediately to the Comm, this is more important than the race. We are concerned both for your safety and the rest of the bunch.
If you do have a mishap, fix the issue first – we want your bike to be safe. Seriously, calm your adrenaline and take the time to fix it correctly. Once the bike is safe you can then re-join the peloton in the position you were in before the mishap. As a matter of courtesy, it is impolite to attack soon after you re-join. No re-joining in the last 5 laps of a race though – just pull out if it is towards the end as it is unfair to other riders.
If there is something you could have done to prevent the mechanical, it isn’t a recognised mishap. Chain slippage, untightened bolts, brake rubbing, low batteries on DI2 and whatever other things you don’t maintain on your bike aren’t recognised mishaps. If something happens and it wasn’t caused by an external factor you have 2 honest options:
1) Chase back onto the bunch and keep racing
2) Take a lap out, re-join but sit on the back and don’t contest the race anymore – no breakaways, sprints or helping out your buddies. Most/ All Combine club crits are happy for you to re-join the bunch as long as the mishap isn’t in the last 5 laps.