NEBRA Officiating Explainer for Event Directors

Who are all these blue shirts and what do they do? A NEBRA Officiating Explainer

As bicycle race promoters or as bicycle racers we tend to see all USA Cycling officials in the same way- a blue shirt. But each official at an event has a specific job to do. Knowing what those are and how the officials interact with each other and they interact with the riders can help you have a better racing experience. For promoters it can be helpful to understand the roles of each official so you understand why the crews are assigned the way they are.

The Chief Referee oversees the schedule and conduct of the event on race day. They are responsible for the rest of the officials on the crew.  They will deliver the pre race announcements, attend to crashes/race incidents and determine what attention is needed, completes the USA Cycling paperwork, and generally supervises the event overall.

The Chief Judge scores the races, is responsible for determining the winner of each field, handles lapped riders and handles any protests on the finish order.

Assistant Judges back up the Chief Judge, and can (but does not have to) handle lap cards and bell. A promoter can (and should) have a volunteer running lap cards and bell in conjunction with the Assistant Judge and the Announcer/Prime master. An Assistant Judge should only jump into the timing of prime awards if that will have a material effect on the race (breakaway v field etc).

When hiring a professional results staff an event promoter can treat them as another Assistant Judge for staffing levels.

Assistant Referees work the pit, assessing free laps or bike changes, and helping score. In road and circuit races, Assistant Referees follow each race to enforce rules, keep track of riders who get dropped or re-join the field, and report to the Chief Referee after returning to the finish. They can also assist in staging/call-ups pre event and can assist in Junior Roll-Out after the conclusion of races. Motor Referees are considered Assistant Referees.

A Starter can be an individually assigned position (say for time trials or large events) but very often the duties of the starter are handled by the Chief Referee. A Starter’s duties are to call riders to the starting line, deliver pre race announcements, confer with the promoter, judges and timer to make sure everyone is ready for a race start and to give the official start of the race.

A Race Secretary is a position that at most events is handled by event staff rather than a dedicated USA Cycling Official. The Race Secretary produces the start lists and keeps track of any communiques or penalties assigned by the Chief Referee. For UCI inscribed events a Race Secretary is a mandatory position.

A Registrar is another position normally not assigned to a dedicated official. The Registrar makes sure that all riders are properly licensed and competing in the correct category.

A Judge-Referee is a Track specific position. They watch for rider conduct during select events.

An Assistant Chief Referee
 can be assigned to an event on occasion when there are multiple competitions at one event. An example of this would be a stage race where the TT portion may be running at the same time as a criterium in a different location. Large events may also utilize an Assistant Chief Referee where needed.


Official Role Definitions from the USA Cycling rulebook:

1G4. Chief Referee. 

(a) The Chief Referee supervises the general sporting aspect of each race. The Chief Referee is empowered to interpret and enforce the rules of USA Cycling and to make a ruling on any point that is not specifically covered in the rules.

(b) The Chief Referee may neutralize, shorten, suspend, or cancel any race if dangerous conditions or hazardous weather or any other “force majeure” arises.

(c) The Chief Referee has the power to penalize or recommend suspension of any licensee who refuses to obey instructions of officials or who commits other offenses. 

(d) The Chief Referee shall invoke penalties for infractions of the rules except suspension. A decision of the Chief Referee under the racing rules is final, subject only to the hearing of a protest. 

(e) The Chief Referee will assign duties for each event to the other officials and may delegate authority to them. 

(f) The Chief Referee shall prepare an invoice for payment of officials of the race event and the USA Cycling insurance surcharge, and on-site license sales, and confirm that all officials are paid prior to the conclusion of the race event, in accordance with USA Cycling rules. 

(g) The Chief Referee shall submit any appropriate occurrence reports on approved forms directly to the USA Cycling office immediately following the race event, along with the waivers for the injured riders, and within five days shall submit a race report, a copy of race results, and all applications for licenses sold on-site directly to the USA Cycling office. 

(h) No Race Director for an event nor any person who is a member of a club that organizes or sponsors a given race shall be appointed as Chief Referee of the same event unless there are no other qualified officials available. 

1G5. Assistant Referees. 

(a) The assistant referees shall act in an advisory capacity to the chief referee. They shall position themselves so as to best observe any infractions of the rules, watch closely, and report to the chief referee at the end of the race. They shall report all rule violations whether or not a protest is received. Reports of infractions shall be made in writing and signed by the official. 

(b) The assistant referees shall inspect bicycles as needed, both before the race and in the case of apparent mishaps, and report infractions to the Chief Referee.

1G6. Starter.

(a) It is the Starter’s responsibility to see that riders are called at the appropriate time and to inform them of the distance they will ride and of any special rules governing the race. If the finish line is at a different place than the start, the riders must be informed of its exact location. 

(b) Starter should ensure that riders reporting to the starting line are properly attired, and that their numbers are in good condition and properly placed. The Starter shall not permit riders to start whose uniforms or equipment do not conform to the rules.

(c) The Starter shall alert other interested officials and staff when the race is about to begin, shall judge whether there has been a valid start, and shall stop the race when called for by the rules.

1G7. Chief Judge. 

(a) The Chief Judge is in charge of the overall results process at a race. This includes determining the finish order of the race, finish times of the riders as appropriate for the discipline, number of laps completed, any mid-race competitions, and any additional rankings of the riders, such as omnium or stage race standings. 

(b) Protests may be made to the Chief Judge concerning preliminary postings of results, but the decision of the Chief Judge on finish order and time is final.

(c) The Chief Judge will maintain a record of riders entered in the race, and will provide a report of riders starting the various events to the Chief Referee so that charges and fees owed to USA Cycling may be calculated.

(d) The Chief Judge works with the Registrar to develop the start list, the Starter to ensure that there is a record of which riders started, the Secretary (in track, cyclocross and mountain bike events), and the Chief Referee to be certain that the results reflect any penalties assessed by the Chief Referee.

(e) When the Race Director has hired a professional timing company, the Chief Judge works in conjunction with them and verifies their results.

1G8. Assistant Judges.

The assistant judges assist the Chief Judge in the results process. A timing/photo-finish operator is considered to be an assistant judge.

1G9. Registrars.

The registrars shall confirm that each entrant has presented a valid racing license (or direct electronic proof of said license via their USA Cycling account), is the person named on the license, and is qualified and properly entered according to the rules of the race event.

1G10. Race Secretary

(a) Shall work closely with the Chief Referee, Chief Judge and Starter in the seeding of riders and is responsible for ensuring the start lists produced by such seeding are generated. 

(b) Shall work closely with the results company and is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of start lists and race results generated by the results company.

(c) Shall ensure that a log is kept of the identifying number assigned to each of the communiqués generated, start lists, race results, and Race Jury/Chief Referee communiqués.

(d) Shall work closely with the Race Director to ensure all communiqués are copied and distributed appropriately.

(e) Shall be responsible for keeping a complete set of all the communiqués issued and results and, at the completion of the event, producing a book for the Race Director, USA Cycling, Chief Referee, and Chief Judge.

1G11. Judge-Referee (Track)

The Judge-Referee is used in the sprint, the Keirin, the points race, the scratch race and the Madison. The Judge-Referee shall solely monitor the conduct of riders in the race and their conformity with the racing regulations. On this issue he shall, alone and immediately, impose penalties and make any other decision required under the regulations.

1G12. Assistant Chief Referee

An Assistant Chief Referee may be appointed when there are two (or more) distinct competitions held under the same permit. The scope of responsibility will be specified in the appointment, but the Assistant Chief Referee generally runs one or more of the competitions and assists with event management and paperwork.