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Rider protest at Mallorca; Hushovd misses start

Riders delayed the start of the Mallorca Challenge on Sunday in a protest over the UCI’s ban on earpieces this season.

According to reports in the Spanish media, riders delayed the start by at least 20 minutes as race officials and sport directors tried to hammer out a compromise. In the end, riders started the first of five days of racing on Mallorca using their earpieces.

Meanwhile, Lars Boom, who took the lead of the Tour of Qatar in Sunday’s prologue, told VeloNews he expects riders there to protest the radio ban before the start of Monday’s stage 1.

It’s the latest move in what’s likely to be a showdown in the coming weeks over the ban of earpieces during races. Proponents of the idea say the ban would bring more surprises and unpredictability to racing while opponents of the ban say earpieces make events safer for racers and their effects on competition are over-rated by detractors.

Also at Mallorca, world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) did not start Sunday as planned, due to food poisoning that left him weak and in no condition to race. Hushovd’s season debut could be pushed back to the Tour of Oman, which starts Feb. 15.

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