Draft-legal racing coming to ITU Sprint Distance Age Group Worlds

New rule coming into effect at 2016 World Champs, with some welcoming the decision as a “game-changer” and others predicting more bike crashes

Age-grouper at 2013 WTS London Grand Final

It’s confirmed – draft-legal racing will arrive at the ITU’s Sprint Distance Age Group races from 2016.

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In a note sent to all National Federations, the ITU indicates that the 2016 Grand Final will be the first race where it is allowed, adding that standard-distance races will remain drafting-illegal for the time being. 

We spoke to a number of coaches and age-groupers about what this news might mean for them, with tri coach (and regular 220 contributor) Joe Beer describing the move as a “game-changer”. He emphasised the need for athletes to train for drafting from now on, saying it will “make criteriums and chaingang riding a one-session priority per week for those used to the turbo or solo riding”.

Age-grouper David Pawsey said he believes the decision is a good thing as it’s not always clear cut when someone is drafting, adding that competitors can sometime be disqualified due more to a lack of concentration then intentionally breaking the rules, and other times it’s not spotted by marshals or the race referee when drafting is done on purpose.

However, our ‘Weekend Warrior’ Martyn Brunt said the the move also means spectators can expect some “top quality stack-ups”, adding: “It will also be nice for grizzled old road-racers like me to dust off some of the dirty tricks we used to use in many a criterium of yore and try them on a whole new pack of naïve cyclists. All in all I’m not sure whether this is good or bad, but it certainly won’t be dull.”

(Main image: Janos Schmidt/ITU)

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Do you think this is a good decision by the ITU? Let us know in the comments below!