Triathlon Competition Rules & Updates

Triathlon Competition Rules and Updates


Click here to expand content  1. ITU Competition Rules
Click here to expand content  2. Kids of Steel Rules Updated
Click here to expand content  3. Appendix L Penalties and Violatons
Click here to expand content  4. Competition Rules - Key Reminders
Click here to expand content  5. Team Guidelines - A Saskatchewan Initiative
Click here to expand content  6. Drafting Rules - A Brief Explanation
Click here to collapse content  7. 2016 STAC Disk Brake Rule Amendment

Bikes with Disk Brakes: Allowed or Not?

Hi, all. I am the Sask Triathlon Association (STAC) Director of Officials. Over the last few months there has been a lot of discussion and concern about whether disk brakes on bikes would be allowed in triathlon competitions. This article is meant to inform all participants that are considering getting – or have already obtained – bikes with disk brakes (instead of caliper brakes) on a bike, and what that may mean for taking part in triathlons or duathlons that are within Saskatchewan and outside of the province.

If you want to cut to the chase, here’s the bottom line: Bikes equipped with disk brakes will be allowed to enter STAC-sanctioned events within Saskatchewan if the race is not a draft-legal event and you are not trying to qualify for a national or international position through the race. But they may not be allowed outside of Saskatchewan in any race.

For those wanting more information about this statement, here you go…

Here are two examples to reference; a bike with traditional caliper brakes, a bike with disk brakes.


The International Triathlon Union (ITU) issues annual rule updates that all ITU-sanctioned races are expected to follow – through Triathlon Canada, through STAC, to all the STAC-sanctioned events. And this applies to competitions in other provinces and internationally. The latest rule update that was issued in November 2015 included a statement that disk brakes are not allowed in multisport competitions sanctioned by ITU. The following points apply:

  • Because of the ITU – Triathlon Canada – STAC organization hierarchy, this rule would be in effect for all the STAC-sanctioned races.

  • Exceptions that ITU has subsequently made to this rule are to allow disk brakes for paratriathlon PT1, cross triathlon, cross duathlon and winter triathlon events – none of which are applicable to any STAC-sanctioned races (at least for now).

  • ITU does not oversee and sanction Ironman races, so the ITU disk brake rule does not apply to Ironman-type races.

  • The rule is safety-related. There has been at least one recent incident at a high-level cycling event where a serious laceration injury was attributed to contact with a disk brake, which has further reinforced the justification for this rule.

Applying this rule (or not) at STAC (and other province’s) sanctioned events will be problematic.

  • Many new retail bikes are now increasingly being equipped with disk brakes.

  • Because of this, there will be an increasing amount of bikes with disk brakes showing up to STAC events that will be used by youth and age group participants.

  • It would be very detrimental to the sport of triathlon/duathlon to turn these participants away because they have disk brake equipped bikes that, likely not known to them, would be illegal to use in the event.

  • Arbitrarily allowing disk brake equipped bikes into a sanctioned event could open the organizers, officials, and the provincial body to the potential for litigation if the rule was ignored and a serious injury occurred. And, depending on the risk tolerance of the people involved, participants could experience inconsistent enforcement of the rule where one event might allow it and another may not.

The following is the STAC solution to this conundrum.

  • The disk brake rule will definitely apply at any draft-legal race. Draft legal races will present the highest risk for a disk brake incident because of the consistent proximity of bikes to each other within packs. In 2016, the only draft-legal race planned is the July 10 Echo Lake event.

  • If a person enters a STAC-sanctioned event to qualify for a national or international event entry, they will be disqualified if they use a bike equipped with disk brakes. There are no events of this type in Saskatchewan for 2016, but this could be applicable in 2017.

  • All remaining STAC races are draft-illegal. This means bikes must maintain more than 8 meters separation on the cycle course from the bike in front of them except to pass. Given that separation for these events, the risk of injury caused by disk brakes is extremely low.

  • Subject to the approval by the triathlon Sport Governing Body (STAC), the insurer has stated that the Board members, officials, and event organizers will be insured if a disk brake-related injury incident arises at a STAC-sanctioned event.

  • And finally, the STAC board has approved overriding the ITU disk brake rule with the conditions above for STAC-sanctioned events.

This means that, for the 2016 season, all Saskatchewan Kids of Steel events, try-a-tri events, and almost all sprint and standard distance events will allow bikes equipped with disk brakes. To ensure that everyone knows what they could be getting into, those very few events that will disallow bikes with disk brakes will strongly highlight that condition as part of the race information and event registration option.

Please note that, at this time, there is no formal consistency with other provinces for how they have decided to deal with the disk brake rule issue for triathlons. It would be a good idea, if you are planning to enter a triathlon event outside of Saskatchewan, to plan not to use a disk brake equipped bike or find out ahead of time whether the sanctioning provincial or national sport body would allow disk brakes. Otherwise, you will be taking a chance that that your bike with disk brakes will not be allowed entry into the event.

If you need further clarification on the above, please contact me through the STAC general office email at

As a side note, we know that we have many STAC members that are also involved in cycling events, and we want to give you a heads-up on related issues for that sport. The UCI (the international cycling sport body) operate in a similar manner as ITU for setting rules that carry down to local cycling race events. UCI has also made disk (aka disc) brakes illegal in certain conditions. So, if you are planning to enter a bike race that will be using UCI rules, it would be prudent to check with the Provincial Sport Governing Body (Sask Cycling in Saskatchewan) about whether it is legal to take part with a bike having disk brakes. As a quick reference, this is the statement copied from the Saskatchewan Cycling Association web site as of June 7, 2016.


Canada Cycling- Disc brakes Not Permitted in Road Events

From Cycling Canada – To All Provincial Associations and Commissaires,

Although the UCI regulations never allowed disc brakes at lower levels, until a recent incident at the UCI Paris-Roubaix Classic, the UCI had permitted the use of disc brakes on a trial-basis for all divisions of UCI Professional Road Teams. As of April 14th, 2016 this trial has ended with the decision to suspend the use of disc brakes until further research can assure their safety for use in road competition.

Currently, UCI and Cycling Canada regulations forbid disc brakes for all Road competitions.  We don’t recommend them in any instance riders will be in a group or bunch, however for club activities and non-competitive events disc brakes are not banned unless specifically stated by your provincial association.


As the 2016 race season is set to begin, we wanted to be sure all Provinces/Territories and officials have a clear understanding of the regulation concerning the use of Disc Brakes in sanctioned Road Racing competition.

Unless specifically approved by the UCI, Disc Brakes are NOT permitted for use in road cycling events, as outlined in policy 1.3.025 in our updated 2016 Cycling Canada Companion Guide:

The Saskatchewan Cycling Association will abide by this regulation banning disc brake use in road competition as stated above.


Marlene Hooper

Officials Director

Saskatchewan Triathlon Association Corporation

Click here to expand content  ITU Event Organizers Manual 2010
Click here to expand content  Rules Updates: Teams, Tri Suits, Number Swapping,
Click here to expand content  Xterra Competition Rules