(Reuters) – Riders throwing away empty bidons at this weekend’s opening World Tour race could face fines of up to 1,000 Swiss francs (755 pounds) after new anti-littering rules brought in by the UCI.
Bidons, or water bottles, flying into roadside hedges are a common sight in professional cycling and while many are fetched by fans as souvenirs, the UCI is cracking down on the practice.
“Dropping a water bottle into the canal or leaving trash on the road is no longer acceptable in this day and age,” Philippe Marien, the UCI’s Jury Commissioner at this weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne events, told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.
“We have to stop those riders who leave their garbage everywhere. We have to stop those who, just after they ride next to the team car, immediately throw their bottle in the air.”
“WorldTour pros have an exemplary function. With higher fines, we want set standards and head in a responsible, ecological way.”
World Tour races have designated “waste zones” where riders can get rid of empty bottles and energy gel packaging.
Fines for disobeying the new rules will result in fines of 200, 500 or 1000 Swiss francs.
The highest fines will be for throwing bidons in a “dangerous manner” into the crowd, according to Marien.
“A rider who throws a half-full or empty bidon, that is life-threatening. We do not want to see that anymore.”
Belgium’s Olympic road race champion Greg Van Avermaet hopes that young fans will not be deprived of the thrill of collecting one of the colourful plastic bidons.
“A child likes to have an empty bidon as a souvenir. It also belongs somewhat to the charm of racing,” he was quoted in Cycling News.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)