UCI Releases New Rules for 4X, Marathon MTB Races

photo courtesy uci.ch.

Last week the UCI published updated mountain bike regulations and there are a few interesting new developments in the 4X and Marathon arenas. The new regulations go into effect January 1, 2011 and you can see what’s changed for yourself in this highlighted document.

Four Cross (4X)

The biggest change to UCI 4X events is the addition of a penalty carding system similar to the one that’s used in soccer. Race officials can present one of three cards to race competitors:

  • Yellow: Warning card for behavior that’s against regulations but doesn’t give the rider an advantage. No penalty for the first yellow card.
  • Blue: Straddling or missing a gate results in a time penalty (basically a false start).
  • Red: Disqualification for putting other riders in danger.

If a rider gets two cards he or she is disqualified from competition. While we assume the new carding system is meant to improve safety on the course, it could have the opposite effect. Consider running events where competitors are allowed one false start without being disqualified. Runners often try to anticipate the gun, figuring they have nothing to lose if they get caught the first time. In the same way we could see more aggressive riding since competitors know they have one yellow or blue card to give away.

The new regulations also require 8 first aid personnel on site during 4X events (2 per rider!) and competitors must wear a full face helmet (with visor) on the course at all times (including training runs).

UCI Marathon Series

The UCI Marathon Series is a new designation for UCI mountain bike races that are 80-120km (for men) and 70-100km for women. Marathon race courses can be run over a single lap but must not exceed 3 laps which kinda sucks for spectators, though I’m sure there’s a good reason for the rule (racers getting bored? dizzy?). The new series makes the qualification process for the UCI Marathon World Championships a little clearer with the top 50 riders in the series making the cut along with the top 20 in each individual race.

Although it may seem like UCI regulations only affect pro riders, new rules and standards often have a way of trickling down into local events and even equipment design choices. We’re definitely interested to see how this year’s changes play out…

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