Dario Cioni has a front-row seat to how decisions are made on such topics as the controversial ruling to phase out race radio.
The veteran Italian is the riders’ representative to the advisory board on the UCI management committee that ultimately makes all the important calls on how the top-end professional level of the sport is run, organized and managed.
VeloNews caught up with Cioni at this week’s Volta a Catalunya, here’s what he had to say:
VeloNews: What kind of voice do the riders have?
Dario Cioni: I would say we have a limited voice … limited to making proposals. We put in ideas, when the decisions are made, we are not in the room. We only have a voice to make recommendation. I would say that some times our opinions are listened to, on things like the calendar or moving races, but on other issues, such as the race radio, we are not listened to very much.
VN: How many times do you actually attend the meetings during the year?
DC: There are three or four meetings a year. Of course, I cannot attend every meeting. I try to go to at least two meetings a year. I try to fit them in with my training and racing schedule. It’s not my day job, so I try to be there if it’s possible. If I cannot be, I can stay in touch with e-mails and such.
VN: How many rider reps are there now?
DC: For now, it’s just me. I am the only active rider that goes to the meetings. There is also (Gianni) Bugno (from the pro rider’s association). But it’s true that any rider can actively get into touch directly with the UCI with e-mails. So they are willing to listen to what the riders say, so if someone wants something to say, they can approach them that way as well.
VN: Do you think that your voice is listened to enough?
DC: It’s hard to say. Everyone would like to be more involved in the decision-making. The best we can do and sit in the meetings and give our input. Sometimes it appears that when the final decision is made, the rider’s concerns are not taken into account as much.
VN: What is the feedback that you’ve heard from your colleagues on the race radio issue? Is there a dominate opinion in the peloton?
DC: According to some surveys, it appears to that more are in favor of the radios than those not. Of course, it’s not compulsory to use the radios. It’s not as if the teams impose it on the riders. If you want, you do not have to use it. I am for the radios, personally, my opinion doesn’t change. The last meeting we put forward a few points if we are not going to use the radios, and most of them are related to security and different way of managing the races.
VN: What are some alternatives if race radio is banned? What are some of those other ideas?
DC: One quite easy thing to do would be to have a limited number of radios on each team, maybe one or two riders per team, so that we could get the really important messages to the riders. This would also leave the riders to make their own initiative, because only one or two riders might be connected to the team car.
VN: Do you believe that having race radio controls or determines the race action as much as some detractors say it does?
DC: I don’t think so. If you look at Tirreno and Paris-Nice, and those were races with the race radios, and the final couldn’t be more exciting than that. That was the best answer. Milan-San Remo, too, and I wouldn’t say that these races were boring because of the radio.