Dan Martin has said cycling’s propensity to discard rubbish is a bad look for the sport and does not set a good example for kids. He also thinks that the UCI’s new regulations to address the issue are “a bit silly”.
Riders are now only able to discard rubbish in permitted discarding zones. The new rules saw Michael Schar (AG2R Citroen) expelled from the Tour of Flanders for littering when he threw a bottle to spectators at the side of the road.
The UCI were under pressure to introduce the rule to address safety issues littering can cause – see Geraint Thomas’s early Giro exit last October – and also cycling’s environmental impact.
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Israel Start-Up Nation rider Martin criticised other riders on social media for throwing empty wrappers with disregard.
However, when asked whether he approved of the UCI’s rule on discarding zones, Martin said he wasn’t in favour of the rule change.
I wouldn’t say I am in favour of the rule. I think the rule is still a bit silly because we're still throwing [rubbish away]. For my whole career I always held my wrappers in my pocket. I do that in training, so why not do it in the race?
“I don't feel the need to throw an empty wrapper that weighs two grams away in the countryside. I think having this area where everybody throws stuff doesn't make sense to me, but I guess if people feel the need to empty their pockets, then it's better to have [that], where people can do it safely.
“But even then sometimes with all the cars passing it blows all the litter everywhere. It is not the best image for cycling.
Even one area where everybody throws rubbish on the floor, I don't think it sets a good example for the kids at home and I think for the sake of the image of the sport it's better to put [litter] in rider’s pockets.
Martin added that designated littering areas had a knock-on effect too – as it limited the opportunities for riders to gift their bottles to spectators.
“As far as the bottles go again. I think a bottle is a souvenir, and a gift.
“I think every rider in the peloton tries to pass our bottles to children and there are a lot of stories of kids taking up cycling because of that and that's special.
“I went to the Tour de France many times trying to get a bottle and I never got one. It was always an excitement to try to get one. So I think that is something we need to look at.”
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