No radios for two stages at the 2009 Tour.
No radios for two stages at the 2009 Tour.

Photo: Patrick O’Grady

Organizers of the Tour de France said Friday they will conduct “a safety experiment” in next month’s race by banning the use of rider radios on two stages.

The measure will affect the Limoges-Issoudun stage on July 14 and the Vittel-Colmar stage on July 17. The steps mean that team managers will have to revert to communicating with racers by relying upon more traditional methods.

The rules may also place greater emphasis on planning and pre-race strategy meetings, once-critical elements that have lost some of their importance since the 1990s when teams began employing lightweight radios to allow in-race communication between team directors and riders.

“This measure is not being imposed by the Tour de France but represents the application of the existing French Highway Code,” Tour sporting director Jean-Francois Pescheux told AFP.

“It is aimed at preventing something dramatic happening one day.”

In another measure, staff traveling in team support cars will no longer be allowed to watch TV coverage of the race, Tour officials said.

Some advocates of radios and in-car televisions have said the two help warn riders of possible safety issues. Others have suggested radios cause as many problems as they solve. Pescheux said adequate warnings exist with or without radios.

“In the case of an emergency affecting the course, such as a street demonstration or a roadside fire, we have in the past been able to warn the
riders very quickly,” Pescheux said.

The French Gendarmerie, said Pescheux, are also trained to signal potential hazards to the cyclists.