The new rules of the International Cyclist Union were not an educational attempt to raise awareness, but a threat to cyclists – and a very real one. That Sunday was the day the first time a cyclist was kicked out of a World Tour race for knocking a canister on the ground. Without thinking, the organization of the Volta à Flandres, one of the classic monuments, disqualified the Swiss Michael Schär, who did not comply with the new rules.
About 100 kilometers before the end of the race, the Agr2 cyclist did not respect the area to throw drums, as he was even “caught” in the act by the TV show. In the pictures you can see that the Swiss man, who rolls off the field after a mechanical problem, seems to have recognized the error immediately after throwing the bottle.
#RVVmen Schär must also leave the race after a drop in a non-garbage zone. # RVV21 pic.twitter.com/2Q2kngAqpm
– Ronde Van Vlaanderen (@RondeVlaanderen) April 4, 2021
The apparent regret was of little use to the 34-year-old Swiss giant who was one of Greg van Avermaet’s squires in that classic, and Schär was even prevented from helping the Belgian, who finished third in the race from the Danish Kasper Asgreen.
It’s about the UCI’s consideration that since April 1st, cyclists are no longer allowed to throw water drums on the track. There are areas designated for this purpose and those who throw bottles outside of these areas will be penalized.
In stages, this behavior is worth a fine and a loss of points in the UCI ranking in the first stage. In one-day races, the rogue cyclist will be disqualified immediately, as on this Flanders tour.
The UCI’s idea is a three-in-one idea: helping the environment, improving the image of cycling and protecting the athletes themselves from accidents with bottles – Geraint Thomas canceled the last tour of Italy after a fall due to a canister.
“Throwing rubbish and objects is not only potentially dangerous in certain situations, it also damages the environment and the image of our sport. It is also a bad example of non-professional cyclists, ”the UCI explains.
In the package of new rules presented by the UCI, the one with the drums was not the most controversial – this was mainly the ban on stepping into positions outside the saddle. Still, there are those who disagree with the bottle-throwing restriction, with three arguments: one athletic, one marketing, and one sentimental.
Regarding the sport, it is noted that it is not logical to force cyclists to think about the pitching areas of the drums, at stages of the race when they already have to balance physical exertion, running tactics and communication with the teams .
Then remember, offering drums to backers is part of the marketing strategy of the teams and the brands they sponsor.
Finally, on the most emotional level, it is argued that throwing bottles in public areas – and this was the case with Schär – is a souvenir for fans lucky enough to grab the cyclist’s drum.
It is in this light in particular that the Swiss cyclist defends himself against this disqualification. And he told a story. “I remember it like it was today. In 1997 my parents took me to the Tour de France. We waited in the crowd for three hours and I was impressed with all the atmosphere and the speed with which the cyclists were running. From then on it was my dream. I also received a canister from a cyclist. This little plastic bottle completed my passion for cycling. At home, this bottle reminded me of what my dream was every day, ”he said, initially on Instagram.
And he added: “Today I’m one of those cyclists. In quiet moments of the race, I keep my bottles empty until I see a child by the road to toss them gently and catch them safely. We’re the most accessible sport giving bottles on the go. It’s as simple as that. As simple as cycling ”.