What are you looking for?

15 January 2024 | Comment | Article by Rebecca Gilmore

Family of endurance cyclist who died from heat stroke following French bike race welcome new UCI protocol to protect riders


The family of an experienced endurance cyclist who died from heat stroke and dehydration after taking part in an amateur cycling championship, has welcomed a new UCI protocol to protect riders in high temperatures.

Barry Covington, experienced endurance cyclist who died of heat stroke

Barry ‘Baz’ Covington, 36 from Penge, collapsed while competing in the 155 Km UCI Gran Fondo Amateur World Championships which took place in Albi, Languedoc in the south of France in August 2017. He sadly died in hospital a week later.

The race took place in a heat wave, with temperatures reaching up to 39°C.

Barry and his partner Paul
Barry and his partner Paul

Following the event there were complaints about the lack of volunteers to staff the feeding stations and a shortage of water or any form of hydration. Participants resorted to picking up discarded bottles at the roadside to look for dregs or relying on the kindness and generosity of spectators to offer them drinks.

On the grounds of negligence and a breach of duty/ contract, the family of Barry Covington instructed Hugh James law firm to take action against AXA France, the public liability insurers of UCI.

Barry and his father Tom
Barry and his father Tom

The claim has now been resolved with the family receiving a significant six figure sum.

Barry’s family has released the following statement:

“While the tragic loss of our beautiful Baz will forever be felt, we find solace in the positive outcome from our legal proceedings and the recent changes to the UCI’s heat protocol. These new rules stand to safeguard riders in high temperatures during all future events.”

Barry and his mother Ann
Barry and his mother Ann

Rebecca Gilmore from Hugh James’ Specialists Claims team said;

“The real satisfaction after working on this case for so long and supporting the family over many years comes not only from the significant settlement sum but the fact that we have potentially brought about real positive changes to support rider safety in the future.”

James Hanscomb, Chair of Penge Cycle Club, said;

“Barry is still a celebrated legend at Penge CC, for his incredible feats of endurance and for being a delightful, warm friend. Two positive outcomes have come from Barry’s death: one is that we now count his extended family as firm friends. The other is that the UCI has now made the necessary changes to ensure better rider safety at events. Those positives don’t come close to making up for the loss of our friend, but we are all delighted to hear of the success of this campaign.”

Barry and his brother Danny
Barry and his brother Danny

UCI, cycling’s global governing body, will be presenting its new high-temperature protocol to “reduce the risk of heat-related accidents” for approval at the UCI Management Committee later this month.

Under the protocol a panel will be able to make recommendations to event organisers when potential risk is identified, based on real-time weather reports.

This may include moving start zones to shaded areas, supplying teams with cold drinks and crushed ice during the race, increasing the number of refuelling motorbikes and altering the start time.

Barry Covington cycling wearing a Penge cycle club jersey

Author bio

Rebecca is a Senior Associate in the Specialist PI Department and specialises in Travel litigation. She has over 12 years’ experience in this area, regularly dealing with complex issues of jurisdiction and applicable law. Rebecca’s passion is helping victims gain access to rehabilitation and financial help at a time of vulnerability and often desperation, more acutely experienced when accidents occur abroad. Clients comment on Rebecca’s down to earth and compassionate approach and feel quickly at ease with her.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

Contact one of our experts

Fill in the form and one of our experts will get in touch with you shortly.