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Chris Ball: The new UCI Enduro Event Regulations and the EMBA

Just one week ago an inconspicuous press release from the UCI was made public to the world! The ‘2014 UCI Cycling Regulations’ outlined the UCI’s rules and regulations for the many different genres of biking that are UCI sanctioned. In a somewhat ominous but expected development, there is now a whole new chapter in the rule book laid out clearly in red print, UCI Cycling Regulations: Enduro Events. Enduro has exploded on a global scale and it now seems that the UCI has had enough of watching and wants a piece of the pie!

How will the UCI's involvement affect the 2014 EWS!

How will the UCI’s involvement affect the 2014 EWS!

There is no doubt that the UCI’s main interests lie in road and track cycling and their involvement in the MTB world has polarised opinion all over the globe. While they can bring events like the UCI DH World Cup and Champs to the main stage, history has shown that they often drop unpopular and unexpected bombshells, losing rider confidence when they dropped 4X from the world cup circuit. In March 2013 the UCI attempted to impose regulation 1.2.019 which despite being aimed more at the US Road and Track scene, would have had a disrupting effect on non UCI sanctioned enduro. In the proceeding overwhelming rider backlash, the UCI were forced into a stand down until 2014. Many riders worry that the UCI does not have the outlook to steer the development of Enduro, vehement that it should be left to the rider focused and successful EMBA. There is perhaps some good news in that Brian Cookson was recently elected as president of the UCI, ousting the unpopular Pat McQuaid.

But the worry in many riders minds is how the UCI’s interest effects the EMBA run 2014 Enduro World Series. If you missed the back story, Chris Ball (Now MD of the EMBA) was tasked with producing a possible structure for a UCI controlled Enduro World Series, after running the project to completion the UCI decided to hold off. Chris could see that the growing sport would not survive being mothballed, and enduro was ready for a global stage. In a decision which at the time would have undoubtedly been difficult, he left the UCI and in partnership with Enrico Guala, Fred Glo and Darren Kinnaird formed the EMBA, putting on a show this year that spanned the globe and made the biking world take note. Enduro was real, enduro worked as a global race series and enduro was awesome.

It is perhaps no surprise that the new UCI regulations are almost an exact copy of the EMBA rulebook, made open source by Chris Ball, as he was instrumental in the UCI’s own planning. However with the new European Enduro Series being linked to the UEC and therefore the UCI, the EMBA is now standing alone, like David against the bulk of the UCI’s Goliath.

Chris Ball, Managing Director of the EMBA

Chris Ball, Managing Director of the EMBA

We caught up with EMBA Director Chris Ball to get his take on things!

Hey Chris, how do you see the UCI’s interest in enduro affecting the 2014 EWS?

“The UCI’s new enduro regulations will not affect enduro in 2014, as far as I am aware the UCI have no plans in place to run any form of series next year. Due to the success of enduro the UCI has been under a lot of pressure from their national federations (composing the UCI) to integrate the sport. By directing their federations with the integration of a trimmed down version of the enduro rulebook I created with the focus group involving Fred and Enrico, they are helping the EMBA achieve its goal of defining enduro in the way we want to see it defined. Of course we are going to talk with the UCI about their plans, but most importantly continue with our plans. As to the future it’s too early to say as we do not have enough information yet from the UCI, but at the moment we are really happy in our direction.”

Do you foresee the EMBA integrating with the UCI in the future?

“Obviously my history is with the UCI and even though we have never hoped for integration, we have always said that we will make the best decision for the sport. If that goes against the UCI, which it did in the beginning, even though it was a tough decision it was the right one to make. If in the long term the UCI’s plans align with ours then it makes sense for the sport globally to somehow integrate. I think that the important thing for us at the EMBA is that the decisions being made in enduro, the rule book and the development of the sport remain in the hands of the people that do it, organise it and love it, and not in the hands of people at arms length who do not really understand. If there is to be any integration, which there may or may not be, we would always push for retaining control of the direction as we feel that we have a handle on the series, the riders and the community.”

The  new UCI Cycling Regulations: Enduro Events chapter is very similar to the open source rule book published by the EMBA which can be downloaded here. A summary of the new UCI rules are outlined below.

Chapter IV: UCI Cycling Regulations: Enduro Events

  • The race includes several liason stages and timed stages.
  • The times achieved in all timed stage will be accumulated to a total time.
  • An enduro course comprises varied off-road terrain. The track should include a mixture of narrow and wide, slow and fast paths and tracks over a mixture of off-road surfaces.
  • Each timed stage must be predominately descending but small pedaling or uphill sections are acceptable.
  • Liason stages can include either mechanical uplift (e.g. chairlift), pedal powered climbs or a mixture of both. The emphasis of the track must be on rider enjoyment, technical and physical ability.
  • Any other system may be acceptable only under exceptional circumstances and subject to prior authorization from the UCI.

Technical assistance

  • A maximum of one technical assistance zone can be provided by the organizer.
  • Outside technical assistance is only allowed in this area.
  • Only one frame, one front and rear suspension unit (fork/rear shock) and one pair of
  • wheels can be used by a competitor during a competition. Frame, suspension and
  • wheels will be individually marked by the officials before the start of the race and
  • checked at the finish. Broken parts can eventually be replaced upon approval with a 5
  • min penalty.

Equipment

  • Riders must wear a helmet at all times during competition. In very technical terrain or on courses that feature steep mountainsides or very high-speed trails, the organizer can specify in his particular rules that competitors must wear a full-face helmet.

The UCI strongly recommends that riders wear the following protection:

  • back, elbow, knee and shoulder protectors made of rigid materials:
  • protection for the nape of the neck and the cervical vertebrae;
  • padding on shins and thighs;
  • broad full-length trousers made from rip-resistant material incorporating protection for the knees and calves, or broad-cut shorts made from rip-resistant material plus knee and calf protectors with a rigid surface;
  • long sleeved shirt;
  • full finger gloves.

Course map

  • A course map must be produced by the organizer and made available to all competitors before the first training session begins. On longer courses or in terrain that is hard to navigate through, course maps should be available for riders to carry with them.

Bildschirmfoto 2013-11-13 um 15.50.36

  • Extra care must be taken by the organizer to make sure that the course is clearly marked and no shortcuts are possible.
  • In sections of the course that are marked by course tape, both sides of the track must be marked.
  • Easily recognizable gates should be installed in hard to interpret or hard to define sections of the course. The gates should be installed in key areas of the course and should be listed as checkpoints…

Bildschirmfoto 2013-11-13 um 15.51.24

Organization of competition

  • The organizer must provide the start times for each timed stage
  • Each rider takes an individual start, the start interval between the riders must be of 20 seconds at least.
  • A minimum of 3 timed stages must be raced.
  • The total time for each rider shall correspond to a minimum of 10 minutes
  • A minimum of 2 different courses for the timed stages must be used. Under unforeseen and exceptional circumstances (e.g. weather), the UCI commissaire may, after
  • consulting the organizer, cancel a stage or remove it from the general classification.
  • There are no restrictions on the nature of liason stages. Uplift of riders can be either by mechanical means (chairlift, truck etc) or by pedaling or a mixture of both.
  • Adequate training must be provided by the organizer for all timed stages.

Infringements

  • A rider must act in a sporting manner at all times and must permit any faster rider to overtake without obstructing.
  • The president of the commissaries’ panel can consider a rule violation that has not been witnessed by a race official if it has been reported by at least two riders who are part of two different teams (e.g. rider getting assistance outside technical assistance zone, rider cutting course).

Article: Trev Worsey

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