When talking to registered race participants and interested parties, questions arise about the rules for cheering on friends or favourite athletes. This is a subject that touches on several areas, quite difficult and delicate, but requiring a clear position.
A race is a competition, but also a fight against oneself and the need to draw strength and energy from every possible source. Observing this on dotwatching platforms or in real life also arouses great emotions among fans and families and causes them to develop a natural desire to support the competitor struggling with his or her rivals and own weaknesses. This is a positive and by all means desirable phenomenon, without which it would be difficult to imagine sport or any competition, not to mention ultra events. It gives a lot of positive energy to the competitors and fans. That is why we encourage active support and we will help to organise it in a safe and fair way.
However, as there are questions and doubts, we have decided to present our view and the organiser's approach to this issue in this text.
As we have clearly stated in the Regulations, the principle is that a rider must ride solo, without the possibility of drafting. Apart from life or health-threatening situations, as well as other situations provided by law (e.g. obeying the instructions and guidelines of competent authorities), it is forbidden to use such a help of anyone (including fans) and to cooperate with other participants or members of their teams. There can be no misunderstandings here and any deviation will be punished in accordance with the Regulations, with time penalties (driving behind the car, driving on the wheel) or even disqualification (pick-up, towing).
Cheering and support at the start or finish line, as well as on the route of the race will be possible within the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, and the provisions of the Regulations. Therefore, there is nothing to prevent spectators from coming out and cheering the competitors at the distances specified by the regulations along the route, or at the place of the honorary start, the sharp start or at the finish.
Riding with a participant
We know from experience that, due to the restrictions on support while riding, riders generally do not feel comfortable in the company of other riders-fans who accompany them to form a smaller or larger peloton. Such a situation, apart from the concern that such a ride will be treated as unauthorised assistance within the meaning of the Regulations, can also lead to dangerous incidents and increase the risk of injury to participants and spectators, as well as bystanders who may have different levels of skill or find themselves at the scene of some unfortunate incident.
We want to avoid this, so as with the Race Across America, Race Across Europe and Race Around Austria we are introducing an absolute ban on spectators riding behind, alongside or in front of competitors. Supporters on bicycles may cheer the competitor from the side, e.g. by strongly overtaking him and waiting for him at certain points along the route.
If the rider wants to greet the supporters, he may stop next to them. He may also accept help from them on one occasion in the form of drink, food, or an inner tube or other part, but he may not accept such help from supporters, friends, acquaintances, family members or other people riding motor vehicles more than once. A rider may accept such assistance more than once if he competes in a category with mobile assistance (with a support or semisupport) and only from members of his own team.
Please respect these rules and inform those concerned (e.g. followers on social media profiles or family members) in advance of the rules regarding the acceptance of assistance and support.
Participants riding side by side
As we know, on a race course there are also situations where riders ride side by side for a while during a competition (being overtaken or overtaking). Since all the participants are riding the same route, and have different levels of training and fitness, such situations are generally unavoidable and do not raise any major concerns, except when, instead of overtaking, the riders ride side by side, or very close to each other, at a distance that allows voice contact.
Such incidents are more likely to occur in the early stages of a race, which does not mean that they will not occur afterwards. For practical reasons it is not possible to prohibit such situations, but it is possible to introduce rules that will make it possible to include them in the general framework of the Regulations, while at the same time forcing that riding "next to" concerns only the time necessary to reach a given preceding rider and to execute an overtaking manoeuvre, also in conditions of a small difference in speed. Therefore, following the example of the RAAM, we are introducing a limit on the amount of time one rider may ride next to other riders during one 24-hour period (counted from 0am to midnight). This limit is 15 minutes total for all such situations within a given day. If this limit is exceeded, we will treat such situations as unauthorised assistance or "riding on the wheel" depending on the circumstances.
Thank you for all your comments and feedback on the issues raised in this article. We invite you to report any further doubts or questions - we will try to answer them as soon as possible.
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