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USAT Drafting Rules

Presentation to the Chicago Tri Club

USAT Rule Book: http://triathlon.teamusa.org/content/index/1684

Don't get a time penalty or disqualified. Know the USA Triathlon Drafting, Passing, and Blocking Rules.


  • Drafting refers to positioning your bike to benefit from the reduced air resistance of another cyclist or moving vehicle.
  • The rider in front creates a low pressure behind the bike, to which the air does not immediately fill in.
  • It is easier for the following cyclist to ride in this area, since they do not have as much air to move out of their way.
  • Can save up to 40 percent in energy expenditures over a cyclist who is not drafting.
  • A.K.A. "Slipstreaming"
  • You may not allow your drafting zone to overlap or remain overlapped with another rider.
  • The Drafting Zone is a rectangular area two meters wide and seven meters long, starting at your front wheel and going backwards.
  • Easy way to remember is to think of two bike lengths behind the rider in front of you.
  • Violation gives a time penalty


  • The person passing has the responsibility to avoid drafting (a "position foul"), even if the person being passed slows down. Pass on the left unless otherwise noted.
  • A pass must be completed within 15 seconds.
  • When the person passing's front wheel moves beyond the front wheel of the person being passed, then it is the responsibility of the person being passed to avoid a position foul.
  • You must move back and out of the drafting zone of the person who passed you.
  • You must be completely out of the drafting zone before attempting to re-pass.

Exceptions to the Drafting Zone

You may enter the drafting zone of another rider without penalty under these conditions:

  • When passing, but for no longer than 15 seconds.
  • When cyclists are reducing speed for safety reasons, such as a course blockage, an aid station, or an emergency on the course.
  • When entering and exiting the transition area.
  • When making a turn of more than 90 degrees.
  • If the USAT Head Referee expressly excludes a section of the bike course from position foul rules, e.g., narrow lanes, construction, detours.


  • You may not intentionally or unintentionally block, obstruct, or interfere with the forward progress of another participant.
  • This is true for all three events, and the transition area.
  • Violation gives a time penalty

General Conduct Rules

  • Basically: "Do Unto Others"
  • It is your responsibility to know the swim, bike, and run courses.
  • Avoid unsportsmanlike conduct, including language and conduct.
  • No outside assistance during the race (food, drink, equipment)
  • Do not leave equipment on the race course (including water bottles)
  • No headsets, radios
  • No glass containers
  • No nudity in the transition area!