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What’s required to race as an age-grouper in a draft-legal race?

Credit: Triathlon.org
Credit: Triathlon.org

The ITU recently changed the competition guidelines for draft legal racing at the age group level. For Canadian triathletes interested in testing their triathlon skills in a draft legal setting, such as the Ottawa Triathlon age-group national sprint championships, it’s important to know about these guidelines ahead of time.

Triathlon Canada says athletes can prepare themselves for draft-legal races in two ways. They must have ITU-legal equipment and develop and practice their draft legal racing skills.

ITU Equipment Rules and Draft Legal Guidelines

These are the guidelines according to ITU Competition Rules.

Draft Legal Bike
Photo Courtesy of Triathlon Canada

Bike Frame

  • There will be a vertical line touching the front-most point of the saddle which will be no more than 5 centimetres in front of, and no more tan 15 cm behind, a vertical line passing through the centre of the chain wheel axle, and an athlete must not have the capability of adjusting the saddle beyond these lines during competition
  • The frame of the bike shall be of a traditional pattern, i.e., built around a closed frame of straight or tapered tubular elements, (which may be round, oval, flattened, teardrop shaped or otherwise in cross-section)
  • Only logos of bicycle related products may appear on the athlete’s bicycle



  • Wheels shall have at least 12 spokes
  • Disc wheels are not allowed.



  • Only traditional drop handlebars are permitted.
  • The handlebars must be plugged;
  • Clip-ons are not allowed.


When drafting, athletes should:

  • Be predictable with all actions. Maintain a steady straight line and avoid braking or changing direction suddenly. Remember that there are riders following closely from behind.
  • Point out and call out any road hazards ahead. These include potholes, drain grates, stray animals, opening car doors, sticks or stones, parked cars, etc.
  • Not overlap wheels. A slight direction change or gust of wind could easily cause athletes to touch wheels and fall.
  • When climbing hills, avoid following a wheel too closely. Many riders often lose their momentum when rising out of the saddle on a hill, which can cause a sudden deceleration. This can often catch a rider who is following too closely, resulting in a fall from a wheel touch.
  • Not panic if you brush shoulders, hands or bars with another rider. Try to stay relaxed in your upper body to absorb any bumps. This is a part of racing in close bunches and is quite safe provided riders do not panic, brake or change direction.