A change to The Union Cycliste Internationale’s rules, which went into effect April 1st (no this isn’t a joke) led to the disqualification of Michael Schär who was cited for tossing a water bottle towards a group of cheering fans he passed while competing the Tour of Flanders.
Velo News reports the new rule states that riders can only dispose of empty water bottles in pre-selected areas or handed off to support vehicles directly, effectively putting the kibosh on the time honored tradition of athletes tossing bottles as impromptu mementos to their dedicated roadside spectators. Michael himself got a water bottle from a pro during a race when he was a kid, crediting the moment as the inspiration for his racing career.
His post on Instagram about keeping cycling as the most approachable sport has gotten widespread support, including from pro cyclist the tour. Check out his statement and let us know if you think of the new rule.
Schär’s Instagram Post About the incident⬇
Dear UCI: WHY KIDS START CYCLING
I remember it as it was yesterday. My parents drove my sister and me to the 1997 Tour de France in the Jura. We drove to the parcours and waited there for hours in the middle of the crowds. Finally the publicity caravan arrived and we all catched some treats.
Later the first police motos arrived and the helicopter was hovering aboth us. Exactly this electrifying athmosphere of the bunch approaching us was for me life changing. I was endlessly impressed by the speed and ease these riders could ride their bikes. I wanted nothing else in my life anymore than becoming a pro cyclist myself. From this moment on I was driven by a dream.
On top of that impression I received a bottle from a Pro. This little plastic piece made my cycling addiction complete. Back home that bottle was reminding me everyday of what my dream was. I rode my yellow Team Polti bottle everyday in full pride. Everyday.
Now I am one of these Pros who race through all of the happy spectators. During calm moments of the race I always keep my empty bottle until I see some kids next to the road. Then I throw them gently right where they can catch it safely. Two years ago I gave a bottle to a girl next to the road. Her parents told me the girl wasn’t only happy about this bottle for a day. No, she still talks about this bottle. And maybe one day she becomes a cyclist as well.
These are moments why I love our sport. Nobody ever can take that away from us. We are the most approachable sport who gives bottles along the way. Simple as that. Simple is Cycling.
Fellow professional cyclist Stefan Küng suggested a mass bottle throwing to challenge the new rules…spicy:
Here’s how Alex Dowsett feels about littering:
This would be DQ with the new rule…freaking bummer:
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) April 5, 2021