The calendar has flicked over from 2022 to 2023, and with that, there are a number of new road racing rules that have taken effect ahead of the start of the road racing season.
There are often only minor adjustments to the UCI’s long and dense document of regulations governing the sport, but this year there are more changes than usual that could make a difference at Paris-Roubaix and even the Tour de France.
From a minor tweak of intermediate sprint-based bonus seconds to a complete overhaul of the whole ranking system – not to mention a last-minute U-turn – there are a few things that will look different in 2023.
And then there’s the technical element, with a number of interesting new equipment specifications for the new season that affect tall riders like Filippo Ganna.
Here, Cyclingnews looks at all the new rules for 2023 and what impact they may have on the racing.
The UCI’s new equipment and tech rules
Handlebar width gets a minimum limit
The aerodynamic equation of Coefficient of drag x Area (CdA) tells us that by reducing a rider’s ‘A’ – their frontal surface area – they will go faster for the same effort, assuming the ‘Cd’ – the drag of the surface itself – remains equal.
Therefore, take a cyclist and make their position narrower by reducing handlebar width, and you get, theoretically, more speed. Aerodynamically progressive riders such as Jan Willem van Schip, Dan Bigham and Taco van der Hoorn have taken this to extremes in recent years, using track-specific handlebars that measure 32cm at the hoods.
To combat this being taken into the realm of unsafe, the UCI has introduced a limit on the minimum width (outside to outside) of handlebars to work alongside the current maximum width of 500mm.
The rule now states: “The minimum overall width (outside-outside) of traditional handlebars (road events) and base bars (road and track events) is limited to 350mm.” It’s worth adding that there is a caveat to the rule for drop bars on track bikes.
The reason for this is not because the UCI wants to spoil riders’ pursuit of performance but due to how the steering input is sped up as the leverage is reduced.
This shouldn’t affect any current riders on the road. The narrowest example we’ve seen was Van Schip in 2018, whose handlebars measured 32cm at the hoods but flared out to 36cm at the drops. These would be 1cm…