18 May 2021


The UCI has revised its rules for the disposal of water bottles "and other waste" for a trial run at the Giro d'Italia. In the month and a half since new rules went into effect imposing strict penalties on riders who discard bidons outside of designated zones, the UCI first softened those penalties and has now announced that it will allow riders at the Giro to throw water bottles away on climbs inside the last 50 km of a stage.

In a statement, the UCI clarified that "riders must ensure that the throwing of their bottle towards the public does not present any danger."

The new rules

The UCI said that it came to a decision on rule changes in conjunction with the RCS, the CPA (which represents riders) and the AIGCP (which represents teams). Instead out outright banning the disposal of water bottles outside of designated zones, the altered regulations will allow for riders to dispose of their bottles on climbs inside the last 50 km of a stage, assuming that disposal is done in a way that is safe for both riders and spectators.

Otherwise, as the UCI notes, "the sanctions will be maintained in accordance with the UCI regulations currently in force."

Moreover, the new rules explicitly give the Commissaires' Panel some leeway with the enforcement of the rules. Now, even if a rider does dispose of items outside of the designated areas, the commissaires "shall have the possibility of not sanctioning the rider if it deems the situation exceptional."

The rule changes will go into effect as of Wednesday's stage 11 at the Giro d'Italia and will stay in force through the race, with the UCI saying that it will be evaluated the changes to decide whether to apply them more broadly beyond the Giro.

How did we get here?

Tuesday's announcement is the latest in a growing number of alterations of the rules surrounding the disposal of water bottles and other items that pro riders have, for years, typically tossed to the side of the road. In February, the UCI announced that riders would face steep penalties (disqualification on the first offense at one-day races and on the second offense at stage races) for not getting rid of their waste in designated areas starting on April 1.

Days after the new rules went into effect, Michael Schär was ejected from the Tour of Flanders after he threw a bottle to a handful of roadside fans. That ejection led to criticism of the new rules from Schär and several other pros.

Less than two weeks later, the UCI announced that it was amended the penalties for breaking the rules. Riders would now only be disqualified on their second offense in a one-day race and their third offense in a stage race.

Those changes have been in place since April 14, but new ones could soon apply to some or all of the races the UCI sanctions, depending on the outcome of its evaluations of the new rules at the Giro.

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