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UCI votes to ban radios

By Charles Pelkey

Rabobank’s Grischa Niermann protested a radio ban in the 10th stage of this year’s Tour de France.

Photo: Graham Watson

The UCI management committee, meeting at the world championships in Switzerland, has voted to phase out the use of two-way radios in all aspects of road racing.

Accepting a UCI road commission recommendation, committee members agreed to broaden a ban that already applies to junior and under-23 categories to all others, including the top tier of professional riders.

In a release issued late Wednesday, the committee noted that “members were of the opinion that two-way radio distorts the nature of cycle sport. They also took into account the desire expressed by the majority of those involved in cycling to prohibit the equipment.”

In citing broad support for the proposal, the committee may have overlooked the strong opposition from teams and riders at this year’s Tour de France, at which organizers had planned a ban to be applied to two stages of the race. Riders spent the day soft-pedaling in apparent protest of the ban imposed during the 10th stage. Tour organizers then cancelled plans to impose another radio ban on stage 13.

The decision does not include a specific time table for the phase-out, but called on UCI staff to draft a schedule for future consideration.

As expected, the decision met immediate resistance from some top directors.

Astana’s Johan Bruyneel, one of the most influential voices among team directors, told VeloNews the idea was a bad one.

“I have the impression that the people who take those decisions are not in close touch with the sport on the road,” Bruyneel said. “As every other director, saying useful things over the radio, I think it is absolutely nonsense to ban them. Surely we will talk about this with the teams in the near future.”

In other action, the management committee voted to appoint Liquigas’ Roberto Amadio and Garmin-Slipstream’s Jonathan Vaughters as team representatives to the panel.

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